For Odisha, 2016 has been a fruitful year in regards to various sorts of achievements. Out of all others, sports is definitely that arena in which our state has hogged a tremendous limelight. There have been many prestigious moments this year wherein sportspeople reached new heights and gave us various instances to be proud of them!
Here’s an account of the major highlights that were a part of Odisha’s sporting accomplishments in 2016!
1) Odisha hosted the prestigious HIL
This year began with the illustrious Kalinga Stadium of Bhubaneswar hosting five Hockey India League (HIL) matches, for the third time. It was in the months of January and February that these matches were conducted and just like the past two years, this year also witnessed an amazing turnout of spectators who enthusiastically supported the players. Moreover the team of Kalinga Lancers, an Odisha based franchise of HIL comprised of four Odia players, namely Dipsan Tirkey, Anand Lakra, Amit Rohidas and Stanli Victor Minz. No doubt Bhubaneswar has become a top-notch destination for world class hockey!
2) Great show by the ladies’ of Odisha in SAG
In the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) of this year, various athletes from Odisha performed spectacularly and brought in accolades for the state. While woman sprinter Srabani Nanda bagged a gold medal in the 200 m sprint event, it was weightlifter Saraswati Rout who won a a gold medal in the 58 kg category. That apart, sprinter Jauna Murmu was successful in winning two gold medals and sprinter Dutee Chand achieved a silver medal in the 100 m sprint event. Shine on, ladies!
3) ODI debut of Sukanya Parida
Kendrapara born Sukanya had on 16th November, 2016 made her ODI debut for the Indian women’s national cricket team in the home series against West Indies. This 23-years-old is a right-arm medium-fast bowler and right-hand batsman who currently plays the domestic cricket for West Bengal! We are sure at this pace; Sukanya truly has a far and fortunate way to go!
4) Swimming sensation Pratyasha Ray
By bagging two gold medals and one silver medal at the South Asian Aquatic Championship (SAAC) 2016, Pratyasha became the first Odia swimmer to to have won an International medal in swimming. This prestigious event was held at Colombo in Sri Lanka, where she brought laurels for Odisha as well as the country!
5) Super selection for Rakesh Oram
You might be a little surprised to know but till date only two footballers from Odisha have represented India in International football matches, the second one being Rakesh Oram himself. It was on 22nd October 2016 that Rakesh made his debut for Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). Surely Oram’s entry in this high profile league will inspire more youngsters of our state to take up this sport!
6) The journey of this child prodigy from Bhubaneswar to Munich
Slum boy Chandan Nayak, an 11-year-old child defied all odds by being one of the top five junior footballers in India to be trained as an academy player for two months in the prestigious Bayern Munich club of Germany. This wonder kid was spotted by his coach while he was imparting free football training to the slum boys of Bhubaneswar!
7) Hat-trick title for chess queen, Padmini Rout
The crowning of Padmini Rout as the National women chess champion was a delightful moment for Odisha. In November 2016, she secured a hat-trick of title wins in the National Women Premier Chess Championship. By holding the title of Woman Grandmaster, Padmini has always been really excellent in her moves.
8) Success story of Neelam Sanjeep Xess
There’s no doubt that the city of Rourkela has given rise to various hockey gems, one of them being this 18-year-old Neelam. Battling poverty, Xess has achieved superb success as a hockey player in the sub junior hockey team. Moreover, in December 2016, he scored two goals in the final of 51st edition of the Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament against Punjab National Bank, and was even instrumental in pushing his team towards the victorious side!
9) Amiya’s amazing sprint
Back in April 2016, Amiya Kumar Mallik, the talented sprinter from Bhubaneswar won the gold at the first leg of the Indian Grand Prix. That apart, he also broke the national record in men’s 100 m sprint in the semifinals of Federation Cup National Athletics Championships!
10) Odia girls in Rio Olympics
The 2016 edition of Rio games was indeed special for folks of Odisha, because for the first time six women athletes from Odisha displayed their spectacular talent. Four of them were hockey players namely Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz and Sunita Lakra while two others were sprinters Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda. Interestingly, it was after a gap of 16 years that someone from Odisha played in the Rio and certainly these girls’ participation was enough to encourage many others from the state!
11) Sporty exhibit by blind cricketers of the state!
It was a fantastic win for Odisha’s Blind Cricket team in the National Blind’s Cricket Tournament on 8th May 2016, held in Gymkhnna Groud, Hyderabad. And based on this performance, three cricketers namely Jafar Iqbal of Bhubaneswar, Sukhram Majhi and Nakul Badanayak of Koraput district even got selected in the 30 members Indian Squad of T-20 Blind Cricket World Cup!
12) The promising defender named Dipsan
On 18th December, 2016 India scripted a new chapter by attaining the prestigious Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup, and that too after a hiatus of 15 years. More interesting is the fact that, Sundergarh’s Dipsan Tirkey was a part of this team and even played an important role in letting the Indian team clinch the winning title. Besides leading the team as a Vice-captain, Dipsan with his excellent defending skills tackled the game in an impressive way!
13) Sasmita, the amazing footballer!
Much recently, Sasmita Mallick was all over the headlines for being chosen as Woman Footballer Of The Year 2016 by All India Football Association. She got selected for championing as a midfielder who even captained the Indian team for a friendly series in 2011. Being an integral part of the Indian women’s football team, Sasmita has also amazingly represented India in various International tournaments!