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The year 2019 witnessed many remarkable sporting events – from shuttler P.V. Sindhu’s historic win at the BWF World Championships to tennis stars Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic’s gripping Wimbledon final to the thrilling England-New Zealand final at the men’s cricket World Cup. Indian sports went beyond men’s cricket with Kabaddi going national and athletics producing stars in Dutee Chand and Hima Das.

ThePrint asks: What was the biggest 2019 sports moment in India and around the world?

Men’s cricket World Cup was the biggest sports event of 2019 even as athletics covered new grounds in India

Ayaz Memon

I think that the men’s Cricket World Cup marked the biggest sports event in 2019. The manner in which it ended for India may not be to the people’s liking. But the climax was very gripping. India actually hadn’t lost a match until they lost the semi-final to New Zealand. This match managed to capture the imagination of the cricket world.

In terms of achievement, Indian badminton also witnessed a fantastic year. P.V. Sindhu’s win at the Badminton World Championship was a major breakthrough. She had tried for gold in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil but wasn’t able to. It was almost becoming a jinx for her – reaching the finals and losing. However, she broke the jinx by winning the world championship in 2019.

That same day, the Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic emerged as one of the most classic tennis matches of all time.

When it comes to athletics, track and field, India has been making a lot of progress. Hopefully, we should be able to compete at the world level soon. There are very promising athletes like Hima Das and Dutee Chand. This is where Indian sports has significantly grown. Sports like cricket have been going strong for a long time while badminton has truly come on its own in the past decade.

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Now, athletics seems to be finding its groove. It is still early days but I believe that some start has already been made.

Shuttler P.V. Sindhu and wrestler Vinesh Phogat were the best Indian sporting personalities in 2019

Norris Pritam
Sports columnist and senior freelance journalist

Even as I tried hard to zero in on one Indian sporting personality as the best for the year 2019, I ended up with both P.V. Sindhu and Vinesh Phogat tying in the top spot. In August, Sindhu became the first Indian to claim the world championship title in badminton. She was in dazzling form as she demolished Japan’s former world champion Nozomi Okuhara in just 38 minutes in a one-sided final.

Incidentally, another ‘best’ also involved a woman athlete. Wrestler Vinesh Phogat’s brilliant effort, though a bronze medal, was no mean achievement at the world championship in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. It enabled her to become the first Indian wrestler to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.

On the international arena, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon men’s title was for me the best sporting performance of the year gone by. The final match with Switzerland’s Roger Federer was stretched to 4 hours and 57 minutes, the longest in the tournament’s history and the second longest Grand Slam final after the 2012 Australian Open final.

Novak became the first man since American Bob Falkenburg in 1948 to win Wimbledon after facing championship points, having saved two when down 7−8 in the fifth set.

It would be unfair not to mention golfer Tiger Woods, who made history by tying the record for most career titles (82) when he claimed the Zozo championship in Japan.

World cup final laid bare cricket’s severe IQ problem but New Zealand’s grace in defeat was a defining moment

Jaideep Varma
Writer-director and founder of Impact Index

India’s biggest sporting moment in 2019 would have to be P.V. Sindhu winning the Badminton World Championships at Basel in Switzerland – the first by an Indian. After four previous attempts, Sindhu went all the way this time. Still, it is tricky to classify an individual achievement in sports as a national triumph because support staff play a huge role as well. Sindhu’s South Korean coach Kim Ji Hyun resigned after the win, calling her opportunistic. Later, with her choosing to be a Twitter handle for the ruling dispensation, Sindhu’s stock went down further and her results after Hyun’s departure have been rather dismal.

Internationally, New Zealand’s performance in the men’s cricket World Cup was remarkable for the manner in which an underdog team found ways to win big moments. They were unlucky in the final against England, as an inadvertent deflection that should have been more sensibly covered by the ICC rules (and declared “dead ball”) went for runs at a crucial moment that led to a tie. After another tie in the tiebreaker (making it the most dramatic one-day match in cricket history), the teams were separated by a ridiculous rule (on more boundaries scored), laying bare the severe IQ problem in the sport. That further got accentuated when it became clear a day later that the umpires had messed up the rules after the deflection that gave England a further advantage; four elite panel umpires could not get the rules of their sport right. Despite the Kiwis being literally robbed of their maiden World Cup title, the grace with which they conducted themselves at the ceremony indicated what a wonderful break they would have been from the usual suspects.

If P.V. Sindhu’s world championship was India’s best sports moment, then Federer-Djokovic Wimbledon final was great for world tennis

Pradeep Magazine

In India’s case, I believe that P.V. Sindhu’s win at the Badminton World Championship was one of the greatest sports moments in 2019. It has been a while since India had produced a world champion, and achieving it in badminton is quite remarkable.

When it comes to international sporting events, the Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic was truly one of the greatest matches of 2019. I don’t think either player deserved to lose. Federer is one of the best tennis players in the world but Djokovic held his ground.

Considering the fact that cricket is India’s most popular sport, I think pacer Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the sportsperson of the year. In a cricket-crazy country like India, Bumrah’s fast bowling has been truly praiseworthy. His wicket-taking abilities that won many matches for India and his unusual bowling action definitely makes him deserving of the ‘sportsperson of the year’ title. By far, he has been the best fast bowler that India has had the privilege of witnessing.

Also read: M.S. Dhoni to Roger Federer – is there a right time to retire from sports?

By Kairvy Grewal, journalist at ThePrint 

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