Sports Yearender 2012: From crescendo to a black hole
The best Olympics medal haul ever by India was undone by IOA bosses who led to the association's suspension.
The crescendo Indian sport reached at the 2012 London Olympics plummeted to a new low in Indian sporting history with the International Olympic Committee suspending the Indian Olympic Association for defying the apex body's diktat on holding elections.
A country that at the end of 2012 should have been chalking out preparatory plans for the 2016 Rio Olympics is staring at the possibility of competing under the Olympics flag. While that remains a disappointing reality as 2012 draws to a close, here are the positives and the depths of despair Indian sport witnessed in the last 12 months.
The Profit Account
Six medals at the London Games made it India's best showing at the Olympics even as gold was not part of the medal hunt that ended with two silver and four bronze, including a first medal in badminton and women's boxing. Shooters led the way before India wrestled their way to two more medals in the dying stages of the Games to end up with half a dozen medals.
In shooting, army man Vijay Kumar's silver in the 25m rapid fire pistol and Gagan Narang's 10m air rifle bronze lived up to the promise even as the likes of 2008 gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and world champion Ronjan Sodhi failed to live up to the expectations. Wrestler Sushil Kumar missed gold narrowly but his silver and Yogeshwar Dutt's bronze in the 66kg freestyle and 60kg categories respectively lifted the sport's status in India.
Five-time world champion MC Mary Kom made up for the disappointing show of men in the boxing ring to return with a bronze in the 51kg category in London where women's boxing was introduced for the first time. Badminton ace Saina Nehwal won India its first badminton medal, though in a little fortuitous circumstances when her opponent in the bronze medal play-off, Wang Xin of China, hurt her knee and conceded the match. Saina added the Thailand open and Super Series titles in Indonesia and Denmark to his kitty to end the year on an impressive note.
The Paralympics followed and there too a medal fell into India's kitty when Girisha Nagarajegowda won silver in the men's high jump.
Tennis may have disappointed in 2012 whenever the stars were asked to play under the national flag, but it was a memorable one for doubles legend Leander Paes who completed a career Grand Slam at the Australian Open - the first Indian to do so - where he partnered Radek Stepanek from the Czech Republic.
Hockey had an unforgettable Olympic Games but the fact that it qualified for the Olympics after missing the event for the first time in 2008 should be counted as a plus. And to end the year with an impressive fourth-place finish at the Champions Trophy in Australia and silver medal at the Asian Champions Trophy is a reason for Indian hockey to keep its chin up.
Chess legend Viswanathan Anand added to his legendary status when he successfully defended his world title at the World Chess Championship 2012, where he beat Boris Gelfand in rapid chess tie-breaker.
It was also a memorable year in cue sports. Pankaj Advani continued to conquer the billiards tables winning his seventh World Billiards Championship title by beating defending champion Mike Russell in the final. This took his world titles' tally to 8 - seven in billiards and one in snooker.
India's dominance in men's kabaddi also continued where a win over archrivals Pakistan landed the country its third World Cup title. The 21-year-old squash player Dipika Pallikal too did the country proud when she became the first Indian to break into the top-10 of the World's women's rankings.
The Loss Account
Doping, the feud between the tennis stars and suspension of the IOA grabbed eyeballs during a year that saw an upswing on the field and embarrassment off it.
The IOA polls saw the return of CWG-tainted Lalit Bhanot back to its fold, but the worse was to follow. IOA went ahead to conduct the elections against the Olympic charter, leading to its suspension by the IOA. The trickle-down effect of that led to de-recognition of the archery association and boxing federation for manipulating their election processes.
Dirty linen was washed in public by India's iconic tennis stars Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza over who partners whom in the doubles events at the London Olympics. The sport and the nation were embarrassed to a new low when Bhupathi called Paes a liar. Paes then threatened to miss the Games, only to agree later on at the persuasion of the All-India Tennis Association (AITA). Mirza then accused AITA of 'male chauvinism' for using her as 'bait' to pacify Paes.
In athletics the highs of the CWG and Asian Games came to naught when the Sports Minister fired India's Ukrainian coach Yuri Ogrodnik after six women runners were tested positive for banned steroids in a major doping scandal. In all, eight athletes - six female 400m runners, a female shotputter and a male long-jumper were caught doping, which embarrassed India on the track.
Archers, including the world No. 1 woman archer Deepika Kumari, scored a blank at the London Games, where India hoped to hit bull's eye for at least a couple of medals. Most of them failed to reach the medal rounds in both individual and team event, putting a serious question mark over their preparations.
Hockey, too, hit a nadir in London. The euphoria of returning to the Games after missing the bus to Beijing in 2008 died when India failed to win even a single match, finishing last in the 12-team event - their worst showing at the Olympics.