Before a virus emerged that caused an unprecedented type of disorder, exercise was a hopeful escape and metaphor for life. Covid-19 changed all that in 2020.
Heck, even the Olympics, that high symbol of the human spirit and resilience, had to be postponed, and the last time it did was when the world was at war.
It was also a year that Diego Maradona, the outsider who split up defenses in his heyday and later managed to avoid death despite his ruthless lifestyle, suddenly said goodbye and made his followers cry on the streets.
There have been deaths that upset fans, there has been a resignation that was expected but still seemed unacceptable. Training across sports was suspended for most of the year and athletes coped with one canceled tournament after another as fear of the virus took precedence over the desire to compete.
They could not be faulted, and the misery of not getting enough exercise cannot be compared to the economic and emotional devastation that the pandemic has and continues to cause.
But as Dale Steyn said in an interview when everything began to unravel: « . . . If you take exercise away I don’t really know what we have. ”
It wasn’t that big of a problem for its cricket community, however. They found a way to jump from one bio-bubble to the next and compete against each other at home after a few months. A 53-day IPL went off without any major problems in front of empty booths in the UAE and delivered record viewers.
But besides, the uncertainty had never been seen before, and while most were relieved that the Olympic Games did not take place amid the health crisis, the underlying fear that valuable time was slipping out of their hands was hard to miss.
India’s great medal hopes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo were largely confined to the rooms or houses of its hostels. You should race against time to be ready to fight in case the Games are to be held from July to August 2021. It remains to be seen how this will affect medal transport.
However, Indian sport was not just about the disruption, the action was limited, but the year had its share of good, bad, ugly and unfortunately some really sad events that will not be forgotten for a long time.
Here’s a look at the few bright spots, the many worries and key moments that led to a year that no one could have seen coming:
Record qualifying for the Olympics: The number of Olympic athletes in India rose to an impressive 74 last year, and what makes it even better is that there could be more to join in the qualifying finals in 2021. Qualifying for the Games is not an easy task and the country can be proud to improve those numbers.
India’s run at the ICC Women’s T20 World Championship: a humble defeat in the final or an unbeaten run to a very first final due to a joint team effort. There are two ways to look at the Indian team’s runner-up trophy at the World Cup. The fact that this young team, with an average age of under 23, reached the final without significant contributions from the seniors should be an encouraging sign, but the fact that not a single player – apart from Shafali Verma – was consistently noticed on the big stage gives cause to worry. But whether you see it as a positive step forward or a failure to deal with pressure on the big stage, this has been a pivotal experience for India and should bode well for the future.
The IPL went ahead: ridiculed by purists and loved by fans, the IPL beat the pandemic blues to go smoothly, albeit on unfamiliar shores. The audience hit an all-time high when the BCCI gave others an example of hosting a multi-team event with the dreaded virus.
Football has been a sport in India: worldwide, football was the first choice when the European Championship was resumed until next year, despite the postponement of the European Championship. On Indian soil, too, the first sport to hit the restart button was the beautiful game with the Indian Super League behind closed doors in Goa.
India’s Battle in Australia: They lost the one day fighters who won the T20, collapsed to their lowest test score before returning to a year-end win that will be remembered for years to come. Indian cricket fans were practically on a roller coaster ride during the ongoing showdown against Australia. The team will step into 2021 in hopes of adding an encore to their triumph in the test series in 2018.
An unforgettable victory, a victory to be cherished: reactions to India’s impressive victory over Australia at the MCG
World Archery lifted the suspension of India: Indian archery was literally revived when the world organization decided to lift the suspension imposed last year after holding « free and fair » elections. The renewed recognition of the national federation revived the archers’ hopes for a smooth construction of the Olympic Games.
Bala Devi’s historic rise: She became the first Indian female footballer to play in a top division in Europe after signing with Rangers Women FC in Glasgow, which plays in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. She was also the first Indian woman to score in European football
Bala Devi on the first Indian woman to score a European goal, inspired by Mary Kom and others
Magnificent Mary Kom: The 37-year-old qualified for her second and final Olympic Games earlier this year, along with eight other Indian boxers. The Asian Boxing Olympics in Jordan was one of the few events that could be completed before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the world.
Rise of Online Chess and Shooting: Both sports have found a new path and defeated the lockdown blues by organizing online competitions to ensure athletes stay engaged. His success led five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand to hope that expanding his sport into the online arena would not mean the end of the traditional board.
There was a gold medal to celebrate. Koneru Humpy, the fast world champion who was part of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the Fide Chess Olympiad, described the triumph as a golden moment for Indian chess and said great teamwork is the key to victory.
“Really a special and golden moment for Indian chess. Talented youngsters like Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, Vantika. . well done. Great teamwork did it for us. We had the advantage of having a mixed team, ”she said
On the last day of the year, 14-year-old Leon Mendonca from Goa turned 67. Chess Grand Master of India by winning the third and final norm at a tournament in Italy. Mendonca, who managed the feat at 14 years, 9 months and 17 days, is the second GM from the coastal state.
Lockdown, Internet, The Queen’s Gambit: Viswanathan Anand on why chess experienced a boom in 2020
Several tournaments canceled or postponed: Whether badminton, football, boxing or athletics, several festival tent events have been scrapped or postponed for later. Athletes were hungry for competitions, despite the fact that training had picked up pace in the past six months and some national camps were taking preliminary and restricted steps to resume
Women’s cricket left behind: The same is not true of women’s cricket, however. As Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana welcomed the women’s T20 Challenge, they wondered when they would play next. You don’t have it.
Legends say goodbye for good: The hockey magician Balbir Singh Sr. , football geniuses Chuni Goswami and PK Banerjee and cricket star Chetan Chauhan – Indian sport lost several jewels this year due to illness. Her death typified the sense of loss that overwhelmed 2020.
A retirement that would come but was not expected: « As of 1929, you consider me a pensioner, » wrote Mahendra Singh Dhoni in an Instagram post on Jan.. August, an announcement that has been speculated about for a long time, but no one knew exactly when it would be made. Though the final phase of his international career was nowhere near his best, Dhoni was leaving a country devastated by this announcement. The CSK talisman is still represented in the IPL, however, a consolation for the fans who, after being confirmed during the 2020 season, tended “definitely not”.
The various administrative disputes: years come and years go, but a constant in Indian sport are the administrative feuds. 2020 was no different. So there were legal battles that resulted in almost all of the major national sports federations not being recognized. Some of these NSFs were also “forced” to postpone their elections due to the pandemic
And finally, hope. With the arrival of the vaccines, things would go back to normal rather than forcing the world to adjust to the new one, where fans are encouraged to either stay away from live action or, in limited numbers, take the soul out of the Spectacle that is sport. Safety first, of course, but for fans and athletes around the world, hopefully 2021 will be closer to how we have known it all our lives.
Cricket, Olympic Games, Indian Premier League, Sports in India, Summer Olympic Games 2020, Indian National Cricket Team
World News – AU – A year like no other: The good, the bad and sad about Indian sports in 2020
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