India had sent an 118-member contingent for the Rio Olympics. While it was India's biggest ever contingent, the results weren't impressive as India won just two medals at the biggest sporting extravaganza. Several male sportspersons put a good show in Rio, but the tournament was dominated by India's women athletes, who made over a billion people proud with their efforts.
Here are five Indian women athletes who earned a name for themselves in Rio Olympics 2016:
The 21-year-old was the highlight of India's performance at Rio Olympics 2016. Sindhu defeated World No. 2 Wang Yihan, World No. 8 Nozomi Okuhara before settling for a Silver in the final, where she lost to World No. 1 Carolina Marin. Sindhu not only became the first Indian shuttler to bag a Silver medal at Olympics, but also India's youngest medal winner at the age of 21. While she was known as a promising player ahead of the quadrennial event, young girls across the country have started to pick up raquets after her mind-blowing performance in women's singles, making her a superstar overnight. With age by her side, Sindhu looks all set to become one of India's finest shuttlers in the years to come.
Indian fans were given a delightful surprise on the morning of August 18, a day when Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to clinch a medal in Olympics. Malik, who hails from Rohtak, ended India's medal-less run with a gutsy performance. The 23-year-old was trailing 0-5 in her second round bout, before she staged a spectacular fightback to script an 8-5 victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan in 58-kg freestyle wrestling. It was India's fourth medal in wrestling after Sushil Kumar (Beijing 2008, London 2012) and Yogeshwar Dutt (London 2012).
She did not win a medal, but Dipa won the hearts of billions of fans with her superlative performances in Rio. She was an unheralded gymnast ahead of the event, before becoming a household name by executing the 'Produnova' act to perfection. Such was her determination, that world class athletes, including Simone Biles were full of praise for her. The girl from Agartala fell inches short of a bronze medal after she ended up being fourth in vault finals. Dipa, who is coached by Bisweshwar Nandi, will certainly be one of the top Indian athletes to watch out for at Tokyo Olympics 2020.
While it was once again a poor show by most of India's track athletes, steeplechase runner Lalita Babar stood out as an exception. Lalita became the first Indian woman to qualify for an individual Olympic track event final since 1984 after PT Usha. Coming from a poor family, Lalita gave her all in the final and finished a creditable 10th in women's 3000m steeplechase. Ahead of the final, Lalita also broke the national record by seven seconds after finishing the race with a time of 9 minutes 19.76 seconds in Round 1 Heat 2. With limited resources, Lalita, who is trained by Nikolai Snesarev, has raised expectations with a praiseworthy effort in what was her first Olympics.
While PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar stole the limelight at Rio Olympics with their inspiring performances, another female member of the Indian contingent who didn't let us down was golfer Aditi Ashok. Just 18, Aditi certainly punched above her weight at the biggest stage where she made an immediate impact. Despite a 41st-place finish, Aditi sent the golf fraternity in a state of shock after she was at the numero uno spot after two rounds. Earlier this year, the teenager made history earlier this year when she became the first Indian and the youngest player ever to win Q School for the Ladies European Tour. She is certainly the one to watch out for in future.