India is slowly emerging as a sporting nation with the performance in various sports only improving. The current generation athletes have made their presence felt at the global level & set the bar high for the generations to come.
The achievements of the seniors have inspired the juniors and they have produced some outstanding results at the age group levels. India had an impressive Youth Olympics in 2018 where they finished with a total of 13 medals including 3 golds to finish at a respectable 17th position.
With the increase in government support and better sports opportunities arising due to sponsorships, things can only keep spiraling upwards from here onwards.
In this article, we look at 10 prodigious talents (under the age of 20) who are poised to become a big name in their respective sports in the coming years. ( The list does not include the stars who have already achieved major success at the senior level).
1. Lakshya Sen (Badminton)
Lakshya Sen is a product of Prakash Padukone academy. The Dehradun lad bagged a Silver in 2018 Youth Olympics. In the same year, he also won a gold in Asian Junior Championship and a bronze in World Junior Championship.
The 18 year old has already won 9 singles title at the senior level, including 2 BWF World tour titles and is currently ranked No. 27 in the BWF Rankings.
2. Yashasvi Jaiswal (Cricket)
Yashasvi Jaiswal’s cricketing journey is already an inspiration to many. Jaiswal migrated from his hometown Bhadohi to Mumbai to chase his cricketing dream. He had to stay in a tent with the groundsmen, where he often slept hungry and sold panipuri to make ends meet.
The southpaw was first selected in Indian under 19 team in 2018. He played a total of 27 Youth Odis, scoring 1386 runs at an average of 69.30. Yashasvi was the highest run-scorer and player of the tournament in 2020 U19 World Cup, and as well as the 2018 U19 Asia Cup.
He is also the youngest double centurion in the history of List A cricket at 17 years, 292 days. Yashasvi was signed by Rajasthan Royals in 2020 IPL auction for 2.4 crores.
3. Esow Alben (Cycling)
The 19 year old from Andaman & Nicobar Islands is excelling in a sport where India had almost no presence even at the continental level.
He became the first Indian to win a medal at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships when he won Silver at Keirin event in the 2018 edition held at Aigle, Switzerland. In same year earlier, he had become the first Indian to win a Gold at the Junior Asian Track Cycling Championship when he won Golds in Team Sprint, Keirin and 200m Time Trial events.
In 2019, Esow again won 3 Golds, this time in individual Sprint, Team Sprint and individual Keirin event at Junior Asian Track Cycling championships in Jakarta, Indonesia. Later that year Esow alongside his teammates Ronaldo Singh Laitonjam and Rojit Singh Yanglem won India’s first ever Gold in UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships after they finished on top of the podium at Team Sprint event in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Esow also won a Silver in Individual Sprint event and Bronze in Individual Keirin event in the same championships.
In January 2020, Esow became the 1st Indian rider to win Gold in Six Day Berlin event where he defeated some of the top riders of Europe including former World Champion Maximilian Levy.
4. Sakshi Chaudhary (Boxing)
The girl from Bhiwani rose to prominence when she won gold at the junior world championship in 2015. Three years later, she became the Youth World Champion in Guwahati and did an encore the following year in Budapest.
Sakshi is already India’s no.1 boxer in the 57kg category , having represented India in the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers. She defeated former World Championship Silver medalist & Arjuna Awardee Sonia Lather to qualify for the tournament.
5. Rohit Yadav (Athletics)
The Javelin Thrower from Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh won a gold medal at the World School Games in 2016 and clinched a silver at the Asian Youth Championships in 2017.
In 2019, he recorded a throw of 81.75m, creating a new U-18 national record, which was also the best throw by an U-18 athlete this year. Rohit is favourite to win gold at this year’s IAAF Junior World Championship to be held in Nairobi, Kenya.
6. Sonam Malik
Sonam Malik hails from Sonepat, Haryana. She is a two time cadet World Champion. She won gold in 2017 & 2019 editions.
Sonam competes in 62kg category at the senior level and has humbled Rio Olympics Bronze medalist Sakshi Malik twice in two months to book her place for the Olympic qualifiers.
7. Jeremy Lalrinnunga (Weightlifting)
Jeremy Lalrinnunga Ralte from Mizoram and was spotted by Indian Army in one of their special schools.He trains at Army Sports institute in Pune.
Jeremy was just 14 when he bagged a Silver medal in the 2017 World Championship. A year later, he created history by becoming the first Indian to win a Youth Olympics Gold. Jeremy lifted a total of 274kg(124 kg in snatch and 150 kg in clean and jerk).
Jeremy’s personal best lift is of total of 306 kg(140kg in snatch and 166kg in clean and jerk). The 17 year old has represented India in World Championship 2019 and is all set to make a cut for Tokyo Olympics which have been postponed to the summer of the next year.
8. Arjun Bhati (Golf)
Arjun Bhati won the FCG Callaway Junior World Golf Championship 2019 in Palm Desert, California. Thus becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat.
He has also won the US Kids Golf World Championship in the under-12 and under-14 categories in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
The 15 year prodigy from Noida is backed by Virat Kohli foundation(sports)
9. Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar (Shooting)
India is now a powerhouse in Shooting with dominating performance in the World Cups and World Championships at both senior and junior level. In a sports full of stars, there’s another lad who is looking to forge his own identity.
Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar , the Madhya Pradesh lad won Gold at the 2019 ISSF Shooting World Cup at Suhl. In the 50 metre rifle three positions, Tomar finished with a score of 459.3 and also set a new junior world record.
Tomar won bronze medal in 50 metre rifle three positions at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships in Doha, thus securing India’s second Tokyo Summer Olympics quota place in the event and 13th overall in shooting.
10. Tababi Devi Thangjam (Judo)
India hasn’t had much success in Judo but in the recent times, the results have come in the age groups and Tababi Devi is the name which stands out among the young Indian Judokas.
The Manipuri girl became India’s first judo athlete to win an Olympic medal at any level when she clinched a silver medal at the Youth Olympics 2018 in Buenos Aires. She also won gold in 2019 Asia-Oceania Cadet Championship.
There are many more in different Sports, Ronaldo Singh Laitonjam (Cycling), Anshu Malik & Sajan Bhanwala (Wrestling), Srihari Nataraj (Swimming) , Manav Thakkar & Archana Kamath (Table Tennis) , R. Praggnanandhaa (Chess) and Veer Chotrani (Squash), who have shown great promise and can contribute in making India a proud sporting nation.