As we count the days to ring in the new year, we await another 365 days filled with athletes and sportspersons breaking fresh grounds and making a name for themselves. However, 2022 hasn’t been a dull one too.
Many athletes, of varying age, have come to the fore in their fledgling, or ongoing careers, and risen to the occasion in their respective disciplines. We at The Bridge take a look at some of these new faces who have surely left an indelible mark this year, and are sure to continue excelling in their sport.
Nikhat Zareen (Boxing)
The defending world champion finished her 2022 with a flourish as Nikhat Zareen was crowned the national champion in the 50kg gold medal match in the 6th edition of the Elite Women’s National Boxing Championship. The pugilist from Telangana defeated Anamika from the Railway Sports Promotion Board to clinch the honour.
What’s more impressive is that prior to becoming the national champion, Zareen began her year by winning the Strandja Memorial Boxing tournament back in February where she won the gold in the 52kg category.
A couple of months later, the boxer became the fifth Indian woman to win a gold medal at the World Championships after defeating Thailand’s Jitpong Jitamas by ‘Unanimous Decision’. Before ending the year with the national title, Nikhat also added a Commonwealth Games gold to her kitty back in August.
Rudrankksh Patil (Shooting)
The 18-year-old marksman became only the second Indian to become world champion in the 10m Air Rifle category since Abhinav Bindra’s triumph back in 2006. Along with the world title, he also booked a Paris 2024 Olympics berth for himself!
After doing this madness, he defeated Italian Danilo Solazzo, the same opponent who lost to the Indian in the World Championships final, to clinc the ISSF President’s Gold Cup. To put the cherry on the cake, Patil ended the year as World No. 1 in the recently ISSF rankings of the 10m Air Rifle category.
The youngster might just repeat what Abhinav Bindra acheived in the Olympics.
Antim Panghal (Wrestling)
Although her name does mean “end” in Hindi, the year 2022 has certainly been the beginning of the 18-year-old’s grappling career. In August, Antim became the first Indian woman to win the gold medal at the U-20 World Wrestling Championships.
Additionally, she also announced herself in the national circuit after she clinched the gold at the National Games in the 50kg weight categoy. Her breakthrough had made such ripples in the wrestling fraternity that the Indian also found herself in contention for United World Wrestling’s Rising Star Award for this year.
Sankar Muthuswamy (Badminton)
Another 18-year-old on this list, Sankar the shuttler came on to the badminton circuit with a flourish as he won the silver at the BWF Junior World Championships. Although he missed out on the first prize, the Tamil Nadu local’s rise from struggle to fame has surely pegged him as one of the rising stars of Indian badminton.
Rupal Chaudhary (Athletics)
Athletics has surely been one of the many sporting disciplines in which Indian athletes have come to the fore and performed exceptionally well. Another starlet to rise in and around the track-and-field area is sprinter Rupal Chaudhary.
A farmer’s daughter hailing from Uttar Pradesh, the Indian made a name for herself after she became the first from the country to win two medals at the World U-20 Athletics Championships.
After a brilliant individual show in the 400m won her a bronze, Rupal got herself a silver medal in the 4x400m Mixed Relay with her team.