Badminton is the biggest winner in the inaugural ESPN India Awards, with PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and Pullela Gopichand winning awards for best sportsperson and best coach. The Indian women's hockey team, which won the Asia Cup, won the award for Team of the Year, and Aditi Ashok was named Emerging Player for a standout year on the golf course.
There was recognition for the past and the future too. Ramanathan Krishnan, the first star of Indian tennis, won the Lifetime Achievement Award and javelin prodigy Neeraj Chopra was deemed the best young prospect for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Mary Kom juggled age, motherhood and her parliamentary responsibilities to win her fifth Asian Championship gold medal; she won the Comeback of the Year award. And Sundar Singh Gurjar made up for missing out on the Rio Paralympics in 2016 by becoming the first Indian to win gold at the World Para Athletics Championships - and was named Differently-abled Athlete of the year.
The Moment of the Year, voted on by readers, was Jeakson Singh's historic goal for India in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and the Match of the Year, voted on by our jury, was Sindhu vs Okuhara in the epic final of the World Championships.
The ESPN.in Awards 2017 recognise the best individual and team performances in Indian sport on a calendar-year basis. Cricket is already covered by ESPNcricinfo's annual awards and so is not included in these awards.
The jury, which selected nine of the 11 awards, included some of the biggest names in the Indian sports fraternity: Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian to have won an individual Olympic gold; Bhaichung Bhutia, the best Indian football player of his generation; Anju Bobby George, the first Indian to win a medal at the Athletics World Championships; Rohit Brijnath, who has covered Indian sport at all levels for the past three decades; and ESPN's senior writer Sharda Ugra.
"I think both Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu had a fantastic year, and that made them stand out in the Sportsperson of the Year nominations," Bindra said. "Sindhu was already well established but Srikanth made some really good breakthroughs and that was fantastic to see."
Brijnath noted, in an article for this site, how he was "slightly stunned" at the range of the 59 nominees. "The standout performers, including able and differently-abled athletes, come from 15 different sports --- golf, badminton, football, chess, hockey, tennis, billiards, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, archery, kabaddi, shooting, motorsport, athletics."
The two near-consensus winners were the Match of the Year and the Differently-abled Athlete of the year. Four of the awards - those won by Sindhu, Mary Kom, Aditi Ashok and Neeraj Chopra - were decided on the basis of the last two votes received. With two major international multi-sport tournaments this year -- the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games -- and hockey World Cups for both genders, 2018 promises a wealth of performances from which to choose next year's awards.