MUMBAI: After the rousing success of the inaugural Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) awards, our tribute to Indian sportspersons, held in 2015, we at TOI are gearing up to recognise the major Indian sporting achievements of 2016 - and there is much to celebrate.
Though India's largest ever contingent to an Olympic Games ultimately returned with only two medals, what two medals they were. First it was Sakshi Malik, the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal and only the fourth female athlete from the country to stand atop a podium at the pinnacle of world sport; less than a day later, shuttler PV Sindhu claimed the biggest prize in the history of Indian badminton - an Olympic silver, to go past Saina Nehwal's bronze four years ago in London. Indeed it was a breakthrough year for Sindhu, who won the TOISA Jury's Choice award for badminton in 2015, as she added the China Open Super Series, Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold and World SuperSeries Finals titles.
On the heels of the Rio Olympics came the Paralympics, also in Brazil, from where four Indians won medals to make it India's best ever haul: javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who broke his own record while claiming his second medal; Deepa Malik, who won silver in the shot put F-53 event to become the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic medal; and high jumpers Mariyappan Thangavelu, who created history by winning gold, and Varun Singh Bhati who claimed bronze.
Then there was Dipa Karmakar, who at her maiden Olympics finished fourth in the vault final with a score of 15.006 - well past her previous best - and missed a bronze medal by just 0.150 points. To go where no Indian had gone before is a story in itself, and no one could begrudge Dipa her result.