Bhubaneswar: The last year of this decade was memorable for Odisha in many ways than one. Especially, in the field of sports, many sportspersons achieved spectacular heights in their careers. The state, now being known as the sports capital of India, once again successfully hosted international games. We have compiled major highlights of this year, that’s going to be passé soon.
1. Dutee featured on Time 100 Next
It was an eventful year for Odisha’s ace sprinter Dutee Chand. The Jajpur girl received much media glare for speaking up about her sexuality. Controversies apart, she featured in the Time 100 Next 2019 list and was also named the country’s Sportsperson of the Year by Vogue India. India’s fastest woman bagged gold in women’s 200 m event at the 59th National Open Athletics Championships-2019 held in Ranchi. Clocking 11.22 seconds in the semi-finale of 100m, she broke her own national record of 11.26 seconds which she had set at the Asian Athletics Championship-2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Dutee is India’s first professional athlete to come out as a member of the LGBTQ community and she also starred in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India ad for International Animal Rights Day.
2. Olympic qualifiers at Kalinga Stadium
Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar hosted Olympic Qualifiers on November 1 and 2. Four players from Odisha made it to the Indian Hockey teams for the game. While the men’s team had lone Odisha player Amit Rohidas, the women’s team consisted of three Odisha players – Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz and Namita Toppo.
Of the 33 members in the men’s team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, six hail from Odisha.
3. Haladhar Das, Nataraj Behera, hang boots
Former captain of Odisha Ranji cricket team Haladhar Das and batsman Natraj Behera announced retirement from all formats of cricket on October 20 and 21 respectively. The cricketers wrote to the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) Secretary informing their decision.
Haladhar was a member of the Odisha Ranji squad from 2006 to 2009. He captained the team in 2008 and was also a member of Deccan Chargers in the IPL. He has played 47 First-Class matches and scored 1,835 runs. On the other hand, Natraj Behera has played 54 First-Class matches and scored 3,031 runs in his cricketing career.
4. CWG weightlifting gold winner K Ravi Kumar banned on doping charges
Katulu Ravi Kumar, who won gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and silver in 2014, has been banned for four years by National Anti- Doping Agency (NADA) after being tested positive for Ostarine in the drug test. The 31 year old weightlifter missed his chance to participate in the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
5. Barabati gives India one of biggest wins in a match against West Indies
The India vs West Indies decider at Barabati was a perfect way to end this year’s campaign. The lone BCCI accredited cricket stadium of Odisha was devastated in cyclone Fani in May this year. The organizers renovated the iconic stadium in record time, for which the BCCI had sanctioned Rs 10 crore.
6. Arjuna Award for Pramod Bhagat
Odisha’s ace para-badminton player Pramod Bhagat was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award at the National Sports Awards ceremony on August 29 at Rashtrapati Bhawan. He received the award comprising of a statuette, a citation and Rs 5 lakh from President Ram Nath Kovind.
Bhagat had a spectacular run this year with two gold medals in the singles and doubles events and one silver medal at the men’s doubles event of the IWAS World Games. He also ranked as the World No.1 Para-Badminton player in the SL3 category.
7. Odisha to host Hockey World Cup 2023
After successfully hosting the 2018 men’s hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium, Odisha was again given the responsibility to host 2023 men’s World Cup. With this, India became the first country to have hosted two successive editions of the premier tournament. For the 2023 World Cup, Bhubaneswar will share hosting rights with the Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
The Rourkela Stadium has two turfs and a capacity to hold 20,000 spectators. It only needs upgrading and the Odisha sports secretary Vishal Dev assured that three years will be just enough achieving that.
Extending gratitude to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the state’s enthusiasm to host the tournament, FIH president Narinder Dhruv Batra said that Bhubaneswar has become the new sports capital of India.
8. Odisha gets its own professional football club
Odisha’s first ISL club Odisha FC officially inaugurated its grassroots football development program at Sai International School on November 18. Ashish Shah, Odisha FC CEO said on the occasion that the program was introduced to make football the no.1 sport in the state.
9. BK Nayak’s appointment as medical officer for Tokyo Olympic
Col. (Dr.) Bibhu Kalyan Nayak, a native of Bhubaneswar, became the first Indian to be appointed in the role of the FIH Medical Officer for hockey at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nayak is extensively trained in Sports Traumatology & Sports & Exercise Physiology from National Institute of Sports Medicine at Havana, Cuba & National Sports Centre at Madrid, Spain.
10. Another feather in Lilima’s hat
Midfielder of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team Lilima Minz, hailing from Sundergarh district, achieved the milestone of playing 150 International matches for the country, on August 21. The 25-year-old started her career from the Panposh Sports Hostel in Rourkela. She made her International debut for the Indian Women’s Team in 2011 during the four-nation tournament in Argentina. Her most recent achievement was winning the Silver medal with the team at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.