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VOTE! India's top sportsperson in 2019

By NORMA GODINHO, LAXMI NEGI, HARISH KOTIAN
December 31, 2019 09:01 IST

Who was India's top sportsperson in 2019?

Was it badminton sensation P V Sindhu, who became the first Indian to win the World Championships gold medal?

Shooting prodigy Saurabh Chaudhary?

Elavenil Valarivan, who recently took over as World No 1?

Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy who made the year memorable for Indian badminton by winning the Super 500 title at the Thailand Open?

Pankaj Advani, who continued his golden run as he took his World title count to a staggering 23?

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia?

Hockey captain Manpreet Singh, who led from the front to help India qualify for the Tokyo Olympics?

Cricket heroes Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma?

Here's your chance to pick India's top sportsperson in 2019. Make your pick in the poll below.

 

P V Sindhu (Badminton)

PV Sindhu

IMAGE: P V Sindhu celebrates winning the Badminton World Championships women's singles final against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in Basel in August. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters

2019 was special for Sindhu as she finally clinched the elusive gold medal at the World Championships after having earlier won two silver and two bronze medals.

Sindhu became the first Indian to win a Badminton World Championships gold when she demolished Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-7, 21-7 in 38 minutes in an one-sided final in Basel in August.

It was third time lucky for Sindhu who had lost to Okuhara and Carolina Marin of Spain in the 2017 and 2018 finals.

 

Pankaj Advani (Snooker/Billiards)

Pankaj Advani

IMAGE: Pankaj Advani is a 23-time World Champion and has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World, Asian and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in five different years. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Advani/Twitter

Pankaj has won 23 world titles across snooker and billiards over the last 16 years, and remains committed to winning more accolades.

The cueist has won more world titles in the sport than anyone else.

Arguably, India's most consistent sportsperson, Pankaj has brought home a World trophy every year since 2014.

He won the inaugural Asian Snooker Tour title in Bengaluru in April and then completed the career Grand Slam in cue sports by winning the 35th men's Asian Snooker Championship in Doha in June.

He then won a 22nd World title by winning a fourth straight final in the 150-up format at the IBSF World Billiards Championship in Mandalay, Myanmar, in September.

A few days later, he teamed up with Aditya Mehta to win the IBSF World Snooker Team event and take his tally to a staggering 23 World titles.

 

Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Badminton)

IMAGE: Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy created Indian badminton history by winning the Thailand Open doubles title in August -- the first Indian pair to win the BWF Super 500 tournament. Photograph: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Chirag, 22, and Satwiksairaj, 19, had a breakthrough season in 2019, notching up their maiden Super 500 title at the Thailand Open, defeating former World champions Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China.

They also reached the final of the French Open Super 750 event where they lost to World No 1 Marcus Fernaldi and Kevin Sukamuljo.

Their year was capped by a BWF nomination for 'Most Improved Player of the Year'.

 

Virat Kohli (Cricket)

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: The Indian captain finished the year as No 1 batsman in both the ICC Test and ODI rankings. Photograph: BCCI

There was no stopping Virat as he once again finished with the most international runs scored in a calendar year -- for the fourth year in a row.

Virat scored an impressive 2,455 runs across formats in 2019 -- including 1,377 runs in 26 ODIs, 612 runs in eight Tests and 466 in 10 T20Is.

He hit seven centuries in the year (five in ODIs and two in Tests), including a career-best Test score of 254 not out against South Africa in Pune in October.

As captain, Virat led India to its first-ever Test series victory in Australia. India then went on a rampage with three successive whitewashes -- as they blanked West Indies 2-0 in their backyard before demolishing South Africa 3-0 and Bangladesh 2-0 in successive home series.

 

Rohit Sharma (Cricket)

Rohit Sharma

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma became the first batsman to hit five centuries in a single edition of the World Cup. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Rohit ran his skipper close with stellar batting performances during the year.

Rohit amassed 2,442 runs across formats in 2019 and surpassed Sri Lankan legend Sanath Jayasuriya's 22-year-old record for most runs by an opener in a calendar year across formats.

Rohit took the World Cup by storm as he became the first batsman to hit five centuries in a single edition of the mega-event.

He also got his Test career back on track. Promoted to open the innings, Rohit smashed 529 runs in the three-Test series against South Africa at an average of 132, with three centuries including a career-best of 212.

Rohit also created IPL history when he guided Mumbai Indians to their fourth Indian Premier League title -- the most ever by an IPL team.

 

Saurabh Choudhary (Shooting)

Saurabh Chaudhary

IMAGE: Saurabh Chaudhary won gold with a new record in the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in February to secure India's third Olympic quota in the 10m air pistol world record. Photograph: PTI

The 17 year old started the year on a high when he won gold at his maiden ISSF World Cup appearance in February.

Three months later, at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, in the 10m air pistol event, the Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist set another world record en route to gold, his second World Cup gold of the year.

At the ISSF World Cup in Rio he bagged bronze. At the Asian Championship in Doha in November, he won a silver medal in the 10m air pistol event as well as the 10m air pistol mixed team event.

He forged a solid partnership through the year with fellow teen shooter Manu Bhaker, bringing home all four World Cups (New Delhi, Beijing, Munich and Rio) gold medals in the mixed air pistol event. He capped his superlative season with ISSF's Golden Target award.

 

Elavenil Valarivan (Shooting)

Elavenil Valarivan

IMAGE: Elavenil Valarivan celebrates winning the gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in August. Photograph: ISSF

It was an unforgettable year for shooter Elavenil Valarivan.

A student of English literature, Elavenil is a junior World Cup gold medallist besides being an Asian champion.

The 20 year old dominated the 10m air rifle range through the year, her consistency seeing her perched on the No 1 spot and end the season on a high.

She also bagged silver at the 10m air rifle event at the Summer Universiade, the World University Games in Napoli, Italy, in July.

She won gold at the ISSF World Cup in Rio, only the third Indian shooter to win a World Cup gold in the women's 10m air rifle category.

Elavenil closed the season by winning World Cup gold in China, shooting 250.8, pipping Taiwan's Lin Ying-Shin by just 0.1 point.

Her achievements saw her receive ISSF's Golden Target award.

 

Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling)

Vinesh Phogat

IMAGE: Vinesh Phogat was nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year award. Photograph: PTI

Vinesh bounced back in style after a long injury lay-off.

The 25 year old, who won gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games, was nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year.

Vinesh continued her fine showing in subsequent tournaments, winning the Yasar Dagu International as well as the Poland Open.

Her finest performance in 2019 came at the World Championships in Nur Sultan where she lived up to the hype and won a bronze medal as well an Olympic quota.

After the Rio Olympics disappointment, the wrestler has again become a leading medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Bajrang Punia (Wrestling)

Bajrang Punia

IMAGE: Bajrang Punia became the first Indian wrestler to win three World Championships medals. Photograph: PTI

Bajrang is India's top prospect for a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 25 year old, who won bronze in the 65kg men's freestyle category in September, is the first Indian wrestler to win three World Championships medals, having won silver in 2018 and bronze in 2013.

 

Manpreet Singh (Hockey)

Manpreet Singh

IMAGE: Manpreet Singh was nominated by the International Hockey Federation for its Player of the Year award after impressive performances through the year. Photograph: Hockey India

One of the brightest young stars in hockey, the midfielder, 27, has already amassed 242 international appearances for the country.

Under his captaincy, India convincingly sealed a spot for the Tokyo Olympics where he believes his team has a great opportunity to complete some unfinished business.

The Arjuna Awardee believes India will win a medal in Tokyo, an achievement that will change the outlook for hockey in India.

NORMA GODINHO, LAXMI NEGI, HARISH KOTIAN
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