Neeraj Chopra made history at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, winning Gold in the Javelin Throw to become the first Indian Track and Field athlete to do so. The Panipat-born athlete came into prominence in 2016, at the IAAF World U20 Championships, where he won Gold and set a World Junior Record, of 86.48m, a record that hasn’t been broken since.
The 23-year-old won the Gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, in Jakarta, where he set a national record with a 88.06m throw. He was also the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. He has since broken his own record, throwing 88.07m at the 2021 Indian Grand Prix. He took the 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold medal to become the only second Indian Track and Field athlete, after Milkha Singh, to win back-to-back Gold medals in the Commonwealth and Asian Games in the same year.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia is a man of many firsts. He is the first Indian wrestler to be ranked World No. 1 in any category, the first Indian to win two World Championship medals, and also the first Indian to play in the renowned Bundesliga-Ringen, the top division League in Germany. In his debut Olympic games, at Tokyo 2020, he won the Bronze medal.
Since coming into limelight in 2013, with Bronze medals at the Asian Wrestling Championships and the World Championships, Bajrang has won medals at almost every tournament he took part in. In 2014, he won Silver medals at the Asian Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. The 27-year-old won the Gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Championships and then became the Asian champion in 2017. In 2018, his most successful year till date, he won Gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Silver at the World Championships and a Bronze at the Asian Championships. A third World Championship medal, a Bronze in 2019, saw him seal his spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
Born on September 3, 1992, in the village of Mokhra in the Rohtak district of Haryana, Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik won Bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, which made her the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in Wrestling. Sakshi’s success brought about a paradigm shift to the perception of girl child and women in the patriarchal state of Haryana, where sport was “not for girls”. Today, she is a role model for women all over the country, and is also the face of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’ campaign.
The 28-year-old’s first major success was the Silver medal won at the 2009 Asian Junior World Championships, Malaysia, followed by a Bronze medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships, Moscow. After a Bronze at the 2013 Commonwealth Championships, Sakshi won Silver next year at her debut Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow. She added a second Commonwealth Games medal, a Bronze, in 2018, and a Bronze medal at the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships, in Doha.
Rishabh Pant is an Indian professional cricketer from Delhi. He was named in India’s squad for the 2016 Under -19 Cricket World Cup, where he hit an 18-ball fifty, the fastest at that level. The same year, he grabbed the attention of everyone by scoring the fastest century in Ranji Trophy history, from just 48 balls. Since then, he has made his Indian debut in all formats, making his Twenty20 International debut in January 2017, his Test debut in August 2018, and his One Day International (ODI) debut in October 2018.
In January 2019, Pant was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year, and in February 2021 he was named the Men's Player of the Month in the first edition of the ICC Player of the Month Awards. He is also the third-youngest Indian and fourth overall to score a triple century in first-class cricket.