India's greatest sporting achievements since Independence
Abhinav Bindra winning olympic gold
Abhinav Bindra finally gave Indians something to cheer about at the ongoing Beijing Games as he won India's first-ever individual gold medal in the Olympics on August 11, 2008. Bindra outshot Athens Games champion Zhu Qinan of China won the silver and Henri Hakkinen of Finland in the 10m Air Rifle shooting final to send the Indian delegation in Beijing and a billion plus Indians back at home the perfect Independence Day gift.
1983 Cricket World Cup win
The Kapil Dev-led Indian team shocked the mighty West Indies to win the country's only Cricket World Cup (50 overs) as yet. Apart from Kapil and Sunil Gavaskar, the team really didn't have any superstars to boast of, but team work and determination helped Kapil's Devils climb the peak of cricketing glory. It was after this victory that cricket really cuaght the fancy of Indian fans and encouraged a whole generation of youngsters to take up the game.
Sunil Gavaskar first to 10,000 Test runs
Sunil Manohar Gavaskar made history when he scored his 10,000th Test run in a match against Pakistan in the 1986-87 season. This was the first time in the history of Test cricket that a batsman's career aggregate touched five figures. And, though Allan Border, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar have all scored more than 11,000 Test runs, it was Gavaskar who first climed the mountain of 10,000+ Test runs.
Rajyavardhan Rathore winning Olympic silver
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver medal winning effort in the Men's Double Trap at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games equalled India's best individual Olympic performance until Abhinav Bindra won the country's first individual gold medal at Beijing. Rathore, however, can take satisfaction in that it was his effort in Athens that really increased Indians' awareness and excitement about shooting as a sport.
The 'Indian Express'
From 1996 to 2002, the doubles team of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, known in tennis circles as 'Indian Express' were one of the most dominant pairing in men's tennis. Paes and Bhupathi won the Wimbledon and the French Open in 1999, becoming the first Indian pair to win a doubles event at a Grand slam event. The pair has also won gold medals at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
Narain Karthikeyan in F1
Though he didn't have a great debut season with Jordan in 2005, Narain Karthikeyan nevertheless can gain satisfaction from the fact that he put India on the F1 map. His ability to reach the pinnacle of motor sport has inspired the likes of Karun Chandhok and Armaan Ebrahim to emulate Karthikeyan's efforts.
Sania Mirza breaking through
Sania Mirza has done for Indian women's tennis what nobody before ever did -- to put it on the world's tennis map! Apart from being one of the most glamourous players on the WTA circuit, Sania also has one of the strongest forehands on the tour. Though she has been dragged into endless controversies, Sania's achievements on the court speak for themselves. She became the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam tournament at the 2007 US Open where she was seeded 26th. Sania is also the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament (2005 US Open), and the first Indian woman to win a WTA singls title (Hyderabad Open 2005).
India's first Test series win overseas
India's 1-0 Test series win in England in 1971, coming right on the heels of the triumph in the West Indies soil, underlined India's growing stature in the world stage. The Ajit Wadekar-led team had players like Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Dilip Sardesai, Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan, Gundappa Viswanath, Bishan Singh Bedi, Farokh Engineer and Sunil Gavaskar in its ranks.
India's Twenty20 World Cup win
India's win in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 played in South Africa bore an uncanny resemblance to the country's triumph in the 1983 World Cup. After a nightmare Cricket World Cup 2007 where India crashed out in the first round, not many people gave the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team a chance of bringing home the cup. However, Dhoni's determination and passion coupled with a young team that didn't bear any scars of the failure earlier that year, played fearless cricket as they were crowned Twenty20 champions of the world. This win also made the majority of Indians believe in their national cricket team again.