Year 2022 was something to remember Indian sports fans.
After all, it was a year of many pioneering and historic feats by Indian athletes on the world stage – a perfect follow-up to an almost equally impressive 2021, which saw the country’s sports stars shine brightly at the Tokyo Olympics.
Here’s a look at the heights Indian athletes reached in 2022.
India’s top sporting moments in 2022
Neeraj Chopra is making his mark at the World Championships and the Diamond League
After winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year, keeping this dream run intact in 2022 would always be a challenge. Neeraj Chopra. The men’s javelin ace from India, however, rose to the challenge, and how!
After missing the first half of the 2022 season to recover from a 10-month layoff following his Tokyo 2020 campaign, Neeraj Chopra returned to the international circuit to win a silver medal and set a national record at the Paavo Nurmi Games.
For Chopra, things only got better. The Olympic champion won another silver at the 2022 World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, marking India’s best performance in the world and only the second medal at the World Championships in Athletics since Anju Bobby George’s long jump bronze in 2003 in Paris.
Neeraj Chopra missed the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham due to injury and did not participate in his title defense. But Chopra made up for the disappointment with an excellent Diamond League campaign.
After finishing second in the Stockholm meeting and first in the match in Lausanne, the first ever victory for an Indian in the Diamond League, Neeraj Chopra advanced to the final of the Diamond League in Zurich. A stellar performance in the Swiss city saw him become the first Indian to win the Diamond League trophy.
Meanwhile, Neeraj Chopra broke the national record multiple times with his current personal best throw of 89.94m by attending Diamond League meetings in Stockholm.
Commonwealth Games with lots of news in Birmingham
With shooting, the sport that has so far accounted for most of India’s medals at the Commonwealth Games, being banned from the 2022 Birmingham tour, and missing star Neeraj Chopra, India’s chances of an impressive result at CWG 2022 looked grim.
However, Indian athletes rose to the challenge and finished with 61 medals, 22 gold, 16 silver and 23 bronze. While weightlifters, wrestlers, boxers, badminton players and table tennis players impressed as expected, there were also successes from unexpected sides.
Lawn Bowls, a sport that was almost non-existent in the collective consciousness of Indian sports fans prior to the event, came into the spotlight as the women’s national team won the gold medal and the men’s team settled for silver. India had never won a medal in sports at the Commonwealth Games before.
India’s athletics stars also made memorable debuts. Murali Sreeshankar won India’s first silver medal in the men’s long jump while Eldhose Paul won India’s gold in the triple jump at CWG 2022 after defeating his compatriot Abdulla Aboobacker to earn India a 1st-2nd place at the Games for the first time ever.
Walkers Priyanka Goswami and Sandeep Kumar also made it to the podium, but the main story of the event comes from steeplechase racer Avinash Sable, who set a national record time and won silver in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, sandwiched between two Kenyans.
Avinash Sable’s feat was momentous as it was the first time since the Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994 that Kenyans failed to win medals in the steeplechase.
India’s ice hockey teams and women’s cricket teams have also won medals in Birmingham.
Winning the Maiden Thomas Cup in badminton
India’s men’s badminton team led by Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, Kidambi Srikanth and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have teamed up to write another piece of Indian sports history at the 2022 Thomas Cup held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Never having won the men’s Badminton World Team Championship in the previous 31 editions, India entered the tournament as the fifth seed before producing impeccable badminton throughout the tournament.
Team India finished behind Chinese Taipei in their group to qualify for the qualifiers. HS Prannoy proved to be the hero of the quarter-finals and semi-finals, winning back-to-back under pressure, helping India beat Malaysia and Denmark respectively by identical 3-2 margins.
Against the defending champions Indonesia and the most successful team in the history of the competition with 14 titles, the Indian aviators showed clinically as they won the decisive 3-0 and claimed their first Thomas Cup title.
Nikhat Zareen becomes world boxing champion
Nikhat Zareen’s gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games would be enough to mark a successful 2022 for the Indian boxer.
However, the Indian pugilist did better by winning the world title as well.
At the 2022 World Women’s Boxing Championships held in Istanbul, Turkey in May, Nikhat Zareen defeated Thailand’s Tokyo Olympian Jutamas Jitpong 5-0 in the final, becoming only the fifth World Women’s Champion from India after the legendary MC Mary Kom, Laishram Sarita Devi, Jenny RL and Lekha KC
She is also the only one, apart from Mary Kom, to become a world champion abroad.
India’s women’s hockey team wins the inaugural FIH Women’s Nations Cup
The Indian women’s team was given the surprise opportunity to appear in the 2021-22 FIH Pro League season after New Zealand and Australia withdrew due to COVID-19, and the Indian evenings reveled in the opportunity to face the world’s best in the competition.
In their debut campaign, India put down a commendable performance, giving heavy guns like Argentina, and finished in a commendable third place.
However, upon the return of Australia and New Zealand, India dropped out of the 2022–23 edition of the FIH Pro League.
Indian players have said time and time again that they want to return to the FIH Pro League, and the opportunity came with the FIH announcement of Men’s and Women’s Cup of Nations competitions. The winners of each will be promoted to the FIH Pro League for the 2023-24 season.
Savita Punia and Co. entered the purpose-built eight-team tournament scheduled for December and won all three group matches to advance to the semi-finals, where they defeated Irish rivals on penalties. The final against Spain turned out to be a very intense match, which ended with a 1:0 result in favor of the Indians.
Rifle shooter Rudrankksz Patil become world champion Antim Panghal becomes India’s first ever under-20 women’s wrestling world champion, a boxing prodigy Nitu Ghanghasappearance at the Commonwealth Games, Indian men’s soccer team qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, and India’s 4×400 mixed relay team setting an Asian junior record en route to a silver medal at the U-20 World Cup are just some of the other highlights Indian sports moments in 2022 .