6 - Great year for Indian hockey

Hockey India

Indian hockey ended 2015 with promise, with the men's team winning the first medal at a global event in 35 years at the senior level by beating Netherlands in a shootout to win bronze at the World League finals in Raipur. Barring a couple of speed bumps along the way, Indian hockey has only built on that in 2016 and has shown signs of getting to bid for titles on a more regular basis in the years to come.

First came the Champions Trophy for the men in London in June, where India reached the final of the six-nation event for the first time, and only lost to top-ranked Australia, that too in a shootout. Harmanpreet Singh was declared the best junior player for the tournament, one where experts believed India played their best hockey in a long time.

The Rio Olympics provided the next big opportunity for India to make a statement, and the men started well enough to ensure entry into the knockouts for the first time since 1980, but then an inconsistent finish in their last two matches, including in the last eight against Belgium, saw their campaign end early. The women played at the Olympics for the first time in 36 years, and even held Japan to a 2-2 draw in their very first game back in the top fold.

India's depth in resources was apparent as the men clinched the Asian Champions Trophy, regaining the title for the first time since 2011, beating Pakistan in the final in Kuantan, Malaysia in October. The women followed suit a week later, winning the title for the first time, beating China in the final in Singapore.

The year would end on the brightest note - the men's junior team went through the 11th junior World Cup unbeaten, finishing it off by beating Belgium 2-1 in the final. Only five of the starters had played for the senior team, and the goals in the final came from two who are yet to earn their India cap. The key to their success this year was fitness, with both the senior and junior teams showing significant enhanced levels of it in 2016.

If there's a modern brand of hockey that India have been guilty of not playing often enough in the past, they are making a conscious attempt to embrace its philosophy now. And they're doing it with a fit, young bunch of players who are showing an appetite for hard work, camaraderie and a sense of unity.