Drawing up an awards nomination shortlist can be a difficult activity, something we at ESPN India experienced when drawing up the Top 20 Moments in Indian Sport during our launch.
There are so many parameters one can judge any two performances on, and comparing the two becomes tougher when they have to be ranked. We faced the same dilemma when drawing up the shortlist for the ESPN India Awards 2017, a process driven by our editorial staff.
Here are five entries that did not make the shortlist, and perhaps would have, had it not been for the greater resonance of the athletes and teams that eventually did. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge these performances.
CA Bhavani Devi (Sportsperson of the year - female)
There have been several trailblazers in Indian sport, but few as rare as fencer Bhavani Devi. who became the first Indian gold medallist at senior international level in the sport by winning the sabre event at the World Cup satellite tournament in Reykjavik, Iceland last May.
Bhavani, 24, has been no stranger to success, having picked up medals at the Commonwealth and U-23 levels, but the World Cup win was special in how it placed India on the fencing map. Bhavani, who trains in Livorno, Italy and is one of the elite athletes supported by the GoSports Foundation, could go on to make history if she qualifies for fencing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo -- fencing is not one of the 23 sporting disciplines that India has ever been represented in at the summer Games.
Rohan Bopanna (Sportsperson of the year - male)
Almost seven years after his previous Grand Slam doubles final, at the US Open in 2010 with Pakistan's Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, Bopanna became the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2017.
Bopanna teamed up with Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski to win the mixed doubles title in a super tie-break, joining Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza as Grand Slam title-holders from India. Through the year, he also took on the mantle of senior player in India's Davis Cup team under captain Bhupathi, helping them beat Uzbekistan to get out of the Asia-Oceania zone and into a World Group playoff away to Canada. Teaming up with Purav Raja, Bopanna took the seasoned Daniel Nestor and the big-serving Vasek Pospisil to four sets before going down in a crucial doubles rubber in a 3-2 defeat to the hosts.
Kanchanmala Pande (Differently-Abled athlete of the year)
Pande became the first Indian to win gold at the World Para Swimming Championship by clinching top spot at the 200m medley event in the S-11 category (one of three visual impairment classes that specifically indicates low visual ability) in Mexico in December 2017.
Pande, who is also supported by the GoSports Foundation, was the lone Indian woman swimmer at the World Championships, and secured qualification in all the categories with her performance at the IDM Para Swimming Championship in Berlin in July. She picked up 200m individual medley silver in Berlin, besides making the qualification mark in freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. In Mexico, she narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the 100m freestyle, and also had the fifth-fastest timings in both 100m breaststroke and backstroke.
Sachin (Emerging Player of the Year)
The most expensive purchase among teenagers at the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), 18-year-old Sachin was a critical component behind the run of debutants Gujarat Fortunegiants all the way to the final of the 2017 season.
Sachin picked up 173 points in the 24 matches he featured in, and his 159 raid points made him the tenth-highest scorer among raiders for the season. His 14 tackle points underscored his utility for the Gujarat team, whose four defeats in the regular league season were fewest among all 12 teams. Leading into a year when the Indian team will be in action at the Asian Games, Sachin's performances make him a player worth tracking for the future.
Indian women's basketball team (Team of the Year)
Fuelled by the relentless work rate of forwards Jeena Skaria and Grima Merlin, the Indian team rode on US-based point guard Kavita Akula and the tall frame of Poonam Chaturvedi to keep a perfect 5-0 record at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Bengaluru in July 2017, winning the 'B' division title at the biennial event.
India were grouped with Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka in the group stages -- American Samoa had also qualified but withdrew -- and ran out comfortable winners to set up a quarterfinal clash with Fiji, which they duly won 93-51. Beating Lebanon 79-69 set up a final against Kazakhstan, and India trailed their opponents for the first two quarters, before making up lost ground in the last to run out 75-73 winners, clinching their place in the top division for the 2019 Asia Cup.