There are many female athletes in India who have brought immense glory to the country. Even though women in India have always partaken in sports, unfortunately, neither their successes are adequately covered nor are they provided with the required infrastructure like their male counterparts. Moreover, girls in India are rarely moulded to take interest in active sports. Although there are many famous Indian sportswomen, like PV Sindhu or Tania Sachdev or Saina Nehwal, whose single-minded motivation led them to succeed in their respective sporting careers, many other female athletes in India have been able to excel because they were fortunate to have been born into sporting families.Sports with most Indian female athletesFrom team to solo sports, Indian women excel in different sports. But there are certain sports over others that attract Indian women to name a few, cricket, badminton, tennis, athletics, chess, volleyball, basketball, and football. The reasons behind this inclination are varied. The availability of infrastructure, funds, media coverage although not exactly favourable to sportswomen in India and success stories of famous female sports players in India happen to be the reasons behind the tendencies. But now, more and more women are excelling in other games and winning Olympic medals for the country, such as weight-lifting, archery to name a few. We need to encourage as many women as possible to look beyond the obvious and break the glass ceiling.ChallengesSportswomen in India face multi-pronged challenges. While on one hand, economic constraints baulk progress for female athletes from economically marginalised and disadvantaged communities, lack of infrastructure adds to the woes. Financial support is also a big deal as sportswomen in India have always received less number of sponsors than male players. The situation worsens when the aspirant is a woman as they are expected to prioritize traditional roles of homemaking over their sporting career.In traditional societies, women are expected to practice moderation in covering themselves, which is something men dont deal with. Also, deeply religious or conservative societies find the very notion of women performing in front of a gallery of audience uncouth and offensive. Thanks to patriarchy, sports is often perceived as a male bastion. Personal safety, low media coverage, and fewer female role models are other challenges.Lack of Facilities and Infrastructure: Many female athletes in India struggle with inadequate training facilities, poor infrastructure, and limited access to quality sports equipment and venues. This affects their ability to train and compete at a high level.Gender Bias and Discrimination: Gender bias and discrimination are pervasive issues in Indian sports. Female athletes often receive fewer opportunities, lower funding, and less media coverage than their male counterparts.Societal Expectations: Traditional gender roles and societal expectations can discourage women from pursuing careers in sports. Many families prioritize marriage and family over athletic pursuits for their daughters.Cultural and Religious Barriers: Cultural and religious factors can limit women's participation in certain sports. For example, some sports may be considered culturally inappropriate for women.Lack of Role Models: The scarcity of prominent female sports role models in India can be a deterrent for young girls aspiring to be athletes. A lack of representation at the highest level can make it difficult for them to see a clear path to success.Limited Sponsorship and Funding: Female athletes often struggle to secure sponsorship deals and funding, which are critical for training, travel, and participation in international competitions.Inadequate Coaching: The availability of experienced and qualified female coaches is limited. Many female athletes receive coaching from male coaches who may not fully understand the specific challenges and needs of women in sports.Safety Concerns: Safety is a significant concern, particularly for female athletes who train or compete in remote areas or during late hours. There have been instances of harassment and violence against female athletes.Mental Health and Pressure: The pressure to perform at an elite level can lead to mental health issues among female athletes. They may struggle with stress, anxiety, and depression due to the immense expectations placed on them.Maternity and Career Breaks: Balancing a career in sports with motherhood can be challenging. Female athletes may face difficulties in resuming their careers after maternity breaks.Limited Competitive Opportunities: In some sports, there are fewer competitive opportunities for women, leading to limited exposure and experience.Despite these challenges, Indian sportswomen have achieved remarkable success and continue to inspire others. There is a growing awareness of the importance of addressing these issues to support and empower female athletes in India. Initiatives are being taken to promote gender equity in sports, increase funding, improve facilities, and provide more opportunities for women to excel in various disciplines.Famous Indian sportswomenDespite these deep-rooted inequalities, many female athletes in India have emerged successful and have made the country proud. Lets take a look at some of these high-achieving famous female sports players in India:PT Usha - Known as the 'Queen of Indian track and field', PT Usha, is an inspiration to all athletes across the globe. Born in Kozhikode, her talent found expression from an early age. Soon, she went on to represent India at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. She participated and won silver medals at the New Delhi Asian Games held in the year 1982. At the Jakarta Asian Championships held in 1985, she clinched six medals including five gold. As a result, she was called the 'Greatest Woman Athlete' at the Jakarta Asian Athlete Meet, the same year. She was conferred with Padma Shri in 1984 by the Government of India. She was also awarded the 'Adidas Golden Shoe Award' at the Seoul Asian Games in the year 1986.Karnam Malleshwari - In 2000, Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian female athlete to have won the bronze medal in the weightlifting category at the Sydney Olympics. After this historic moment, she became a household name and was called the 'The Iron Lady' of India. In recognition of her triumph, she was conferred Arjuna Award in 1994 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 1999, the country's highest sporting award. The same year she received the Padma Shri award.Geeta Phogat - Geeta Phogat, a freestyle wrestler, is India's first female athlete to win a gold medal in the wrestling category at the Commonwealth Games in the year 2010 in New Delhi. She also won a gold medal at the FILA Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament that took place in Kazakhstan in the year 2012. She is also the first Indian female wrestler to have qualified for the Olympic Summer Games. In 2012, she won the bronze medal at the World Wrestling Championships that took place in Canada.2021 Olympic medal winnersMirabai won the silver medal in the 49kg weightlifting category for women. Lovlina Borgohain is the third Indian athlete to win a bronze for 69kg Welterweight after Vijender Singh and Mary Kom.PV Sindhu is the first Indian female athlete to have won two Olympic medals in Womens singles for Badminton. She was also the first Indian to have won the silver medal in the game of Badminton at Olympics in 2016 and a gold at the 2019 World Championships. With her talent and mental grit, she emerged victoriously and tasted victory at the early age of 21.Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian women cricket team, is the highest scorer in international womens cricket. In addition to that, she is the only female cricketer to have surpassed the 6,000-run mark in One-Day International matches.Chess-star Tania Sachdev is Indias new Grandmaster. Having started playing chess from the tender age of six, her talent and perseverance earned her both the titles of International Master and Woman Grand Master. Also, at the Womens Asian Team Championship (in 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2014), she won three silvers and one bronze medal for the country.When Deepika Kumari was crowned as world number one in the year 2012, the feat opened the eyes of every Indian to the fact that Indian women could also excel in the game of Archery. Presently ranked fifth in the world, Deepika continues to encourage many women who want to pursue their dreams despite socio-economic challenges.Hailing from a family of wrestlers, Sakshi Malik is a name to reckon with in the game of Wrestling. She started early at the age of 12, and went up to win the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in the year 2016, thereby putting an end to India's prolonged wait for a winner and making every Indian proud. She is the countrys very first female wrestler to have won a medal at the Olympics.Sania Mirza started playing tennis at the age of 16. She emerged as the first and the only Indian female tennis player to have won six major titles, including both mixed and women's doubles. In fact, she held the numero uno position for doubles at a stretch of 91 weeks thereby becoming one of the biggest sporting icons in India.Notable achievementsMany sportswomen in India have achieved unparalleled success. For instance, Saina Nehwal is Indias first badminton player to clinch a medal at the Olympics. She is not only the first female but also the only second Indian to have been ranked first in the world championship.Equally successful, Mary Kom completely changed the Indian perception of women in boxing. Fighting off stereotypes, she became a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion. She is the only female boxer to have won a medal in all these world championships. She was conferred with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, one of Indias highest civilian honours by the government of India after she won the gold medal at the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014.Dipa KarmakarDipa Karmakar, the artistic gymnast, made history by becoming the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. Her dedication to the sport has put Indian gymnastics on the global map.Pullela GopichandPullela Gopichand, the former badminton player and renowned coach, has played a pivotal role in nurturing some of India's top badminton talents, including PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. His coaching academy in Hyderabad is a hub for aspiring badminton players.Jhulan GoswamiJhulan Goswami, the pace bowler in the Indian women's cricket team, is one of the leading wicket-takers in women's ODI cricket. Her contributions to the sport have set new benchmarks for women's cricket in India.Anju Bobby GeorgeAnju Bobby George, a long jumper, became the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships. Her achievements in athletics continue to inspire young athletes across the country.Dronacharya AwardeesThe Dronacharya Awards, which honor outstanding coaches, have recognized several coaches who have been instrumental in shaping the careers of Indian sportswomen. These coaches often work behind the scenes, providing the necessary guidance and support.Indian Women in ParalympicsIndian sportswomen have also made their mark in the Paralympics, showcasing their indomitable spirit. Athletes like Deepa Malik and Bhavina Patel have overcome physical challenges to achieve excellence.Sports and EmpowermentParticipation in sports has proven to be a powerful tool for empowerment, providing women with self-confidence, leadership skills, and opportunities to challenge societal norms.Role of Family and Support SystemsBehind every successful sportswoman, there is often a strong support system, including family, coaches, and mentors. The role of these individuals is critical in nurturing talent and enabling young girls to pursue their sporting dreams.Future Prospects for Women in Indian SportsThe future of women in Indian sports is promising. With continued support, more opportunities, and a changing sports culture, we can expect even more achievements and success stories.Future scopeSports can be considered a career option for Indian women. Other than active sports, there are other options too, one being an Athletic Trainer who provides emergency care, rehabilitation, and clinical diagnoses to athletes. Another option is becoming varsity coaches. It requires an undergraduate degree and teaching certification. For those with ample experience, the prestigious position of College Athletics Director is a good option. The incumbent needs a graduate degree with extensive administrative and business knowledge in sports to supervise the performances of coaches and staff hired for athletic events. Other employment options include Sportswriter, Broadcast Journalist and Sports Executive.In conclusion, as a society, we need to put in concerted efforts to provide Indian female athletes with the required facilities and socio-economic support. From parents to the government, everyone needs to do their own bit to make this happen. And theres really no excuse to not do that with so many admirable female athletes in India making waves on the international stage.ConclusionThe incredible journeys of these remarkable sportswomen exemplify the resilience, passion, and dedication that define Indian women in sports. These athletes have not only achieved extraordinary success but have also shattered stereotypes and paved the way for future generations.Their stories are a testament to the power of dreams, hard work, and unwavering determination. They have shown that gender is not a barrier to success in the world of sports. These women have not only brought glory to India but have also inspired countless young athletes to pursue their dreams.As we celebrate the achievements of these famous sportswomen, it's important to recognize the critical role of coaches, mentors, and support systems that have nurtured their talent. These unsung heroes behind the scenes play a significant part in shaping the future of Indian sports.Furthermore, the impact of sports on empowerment is undeniable. Participation in sports instills self-confidence, leadership skills, and the ability to challenge societal norms. It empowers women and helps them break free from constraints, both physical and mental.The future of women in Indian sports is bright. With continued support from the government, sporting bodies, and society at large, we can expect to witness even more remarkable achievements and success stories. Indian women athletes are poised to excel on the national and international stage, leaving an indelible mark.In closing, the journeys of these extraordinary sportswomen serve as a source of inspiration for all. They remind us that with hard work, passion, and unwavering determination, anyone can achieve greatness. These women are more than just athletes; they are symbols of hope, breaking boundaries and making India proud on the world stage.FAQs1.Who is the most famous sportswoman in India?A-Determining the most famous sportswoman in India can be subjective, but names like PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, and Sania Mirza are widely recognized for their achievements.2.What are the challenges faced by sportswomen in India?A-Sportswomen in India often face challenges related to gender bias, limited resources, and societal expectations. However, their determination and success have contributed to changing these perceptions.3.Are there any initiatives to support women in sports in India?A-Yes, various government and non-government initiatives aim to promote and support women in sports. These initiatives provide funding, coaching, and infrastructure support to aspiring female athletes.4.How can young girls pursue a career in sports in India?A-Young girls can pursue a career in sports by starting early, seeking proper coaching, and maintaining a strong support system. It's essential to be dedicated and committed to one's chosen sport.5.What is the role of government initiatives in supporting women in sports?A-Government initiatives in India offer financial support, training facilities, and coaching to budding female athletes. These programs aim to level the playing field and promote gender equality in sports.6.How can young girls balance sports and education in India?A-Balancing sports and education can be challenging but is essential. Supportive schools, colleges, and flexible schedules can help young girls pursue their passion for sports while getting an education.7.What are the upcoming sports events in India where female athletes are expected to shine?A-India hosts various sports events, and female athletes are likely to excel in disciplines like cricket, badminton, wrestling, and athletics. Keep an eye on international tournaments and the Olympics for Indian women athletes' performances.