Sindhu conquering the world, Dipa's leap of faith headline our moments of the decade

The Indian flag takes centrestage as Neeraj Chopra wins gold in the javelin at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

After hours of discussion and a poll that involved everyone in the newsroom, we here at ESPN.in have zeroed in on our best moments in Indian sport over the past decade.

Here they are, our top 5 moments, in the words of those who created them:

#5. Neeraj Chopra, Commonwealth Games Gold, 2018

When I walked into the stadium, I felt it was going to be my day. Everything was perfect. I had slept well, the weather was great and there was a huge crowd in the stadium. You always want the weather to be just right. Too hot and you feel drained very quickly. Too cold and you are covered in clothes and it takes a long time for your body to warm up.

The CWG was different [from the other competitions he'd won] as it is very important to Indians. I think the World Junior Championships and Asian Championships [where Neeraj had won gold] were important but most people aren't very familiar with them. Going to the CWG, I realised that news people were following what I was doing. There were more expectations from me.

In the night before the qualification round, neither I nor my roommate Vipin Kasana slept well because we were thinking about the next day's event. Thoda zyaada josh ho jata hai (The adrenalin can get a bit high). I was lucky that I reached the qualification standard for the final with my first throw.

I was much more relaxed going into the finals. I made a few practice throws and I was throwing over 80m in all of them. While I knew I would throw well, I didn't go into the final thinking I had to clear some target. That's because it would put too much pressure on me. If I didn't throw well in the first throw, I would have started overthinking what I had to do in the next and make another mistake.

Competition mein dimag nahi lagana padta (In competition, you try not to overthink things). You can use your mind in training but in a competition, everything should be instinctive.

[In the final] I threw really well with my first throw itself. They say you shouldn't relax until the last throw but after the first throw, I knew it was going to win the gold. In the rest of my throws, I was trying to break the national record and trying to target the 90-meter mark but in the end, I missed the national record by just one cm. It would have been perfect if I had got that.

As told to Jonathan Selvaraj

#4. Sushil Kumar, World Championships Gold, 2010

The toughest match for me at the 2010 Worlds wasn't the final, but my semifinal against [Jabrayil Hassanov of] Azerbeijan. It seems funny now, but I nearly missed that bout because when the call was made for my match, I waiting in line to go to the toilet!

There is a big crowd at any world championships but for a tournament in Russia, it is something else. The line for the toilet was very long and I wasn't able to hear when my name was announced. I only found out on the third and final call. Otherwise, I would have forfeited that match! I rushed from the bathroom and just got to the mat in time. Because I was so rushed, I couldn't compose myself and I had a bad first round, but I managed to recover in time.

In fact, I has been very confident of doing well in that tournament. I had trained really well and in one of my camps in Russia, and many of the wrestlers had told me that I was going to win the Worlds that year. I was already in a good rhythm [Sushil had won gold in the Asian Championships earlier that year] and I knew I had the ability to win a gold medal at the biggest tournament.

Winning a world medal is big. Winning a world championship gold is much bigger. This isn't something I can explain. You can only know this by experiencing it. It's true that I had already won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics. And at that time a lot of people were saying 'Sushil you have already won an Olympic medal, bahut ho gaya wrestling, it's good enough.' But I said, 'nahi, I still have to become a World Champion.'

When I finally won that gold medal, I can't explain how I felt. Winning a gold medal is great but to do it in Russia is special because of the love that country has for wrestling. At the same time, I never really celebrated that medal. I have a belief, once you win a medal; you put it back in its box and forget about it. That was the same after the gold medal.

Even today, when I go to Russia or Georgia, people respect me more for being the world champion than winning medals at the Olympics. Recently I was in Russia, I was eating in a restaurant and someone quietly paid for my meal, gave a thumbs-up and left. He knew that I was a world champion. That's the kind of respect I still get there!

As told to Jonathan Selvaraj

#3. Dipa Karmakar, Olympics fourth place, 2016

When I walked into the stadium on the day of the final, I suddenly remembered the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. How I'd been watching the Beijing and London gymnastics finals on TV and thinking, 'kaash (I wish), if I could also compete in an Olympic final, with these world-standard gymnasts'. And there I was, being a finalist. To me, it felt like winning.

It had been 52 years since an Indian gymnast had competed in the Olympics, and it was I, a girl from Tripura, which no one had heard of. Nandi sir had kept me relaxed and loose on the day and said, do what you want today, for this one day, compete for yourself, do as you like.

I was nervous but it wasn't pressure. I knew that I was the last qualifier in at No.8 and [Nandi] sir said, 'if you do well, you will rise, if you do badly you will not go below No. 8 in the world.' I remember being happy with my two vaults and I thought it was the best I'd done with them, even more than Glasgow 2014 [CWG bronze].

When I saw my score I knew I'd finish fourth and it was fine, I'd given my best, and its sport, sometimes you end up on the podium, sometime just off it.

[Coach] Bishweshar Nandi: When we were going to enter the dining hall on our first morning in Rio, Dipa said, 'sir, pinch me'. I asked why, and she said, 'are we really at the Olympics?'

I wasn't thinking about the final, but she was so good in her qualification, that I was stunned, overwhelmed even. How had she made that big jump which no one had before her? After I calmed down, and realized I had to keep her relaxed and happy in the seven days between the qualification and the final.

Those seven days felt like seven years for me, because she was impatient, even cranky, wanting roti and sabzi from Tripura. I told her you're in an Olympic final, you're my medallist anyway. Everything after this is a benefit for us. She got that. I switched her vaults and put the Produnova ahead, to get the most of her pent-up energy. At one point, she showed me four fingers and said she said she felt she could finish fourth.

There was emotion at the end, and I've seen the difference Dipa's performance has made to women's gymnastics in India. Things changed for our sport after that night in Rio.

As told to Sharda Ugra

#2. PV Sindhu, World Championships gold, 2019

It was a much-needed win for me. I had four medals at the tournament previously - two bronze and two silver -- so this was the gold that was missing. Every time I got to the finals of the competition, I would tell myself, 'you have to win this time', but I ended up losing to [Carolina] Marin and [Nozomi] Okuhara.

The 2017 final against Okuhara was a particularly painful loss since we played a long and close match. So this time when I reached the final I just had my mind set on this single-minded focus that, 'no matter what, I want this win' and the way I played through the tournament showed how ardently I was chasing the gold.

It turned out to be an easy final against Okuhara and when I saw the national flag being raised, I could feel myself choke. It was that moment when I knew I'd done something special.

[Coach] Pullela Gopichand: Preceding it, there was a lot of talk around Sindhu's silver medals, which I think was largely unnecessary. Her 2018 World Tour Finals win in a sense broke the thought process that she's only as good as silver. She beat all the top girls in that one. But every time she gets to a final all that chatter of silver returns.

When she reached this year's Worlds she'd lost enough already in terms of big finals, starting with Rio 2016 and she had, I think, reached a stage where it was almost like, 'OK even if I lose this time they're going to say the same things'. Luckily, the length of the matches this time worked to her favor unlike the previous Worlds. Sindhu has, I have always believed, the kind of game, which offers her a choice of demolishing opposition the way she did against Okuhara, because of her physical strength. That day it was all about who was stronger, and Okuhara clearly didn't have the weapons to break Sindhu.

I have been anticipating this to happen for a while now - of Sindhu turning into this monster that can eat up opponents. We were thrilled with the win. Most of the other Indian players had already left Basel (the venue of the BWF World Championships) so it was just me, Sindhu and her father (PV Ramanna) who got together after the match. That night, we had a quiet celebration with dinner at a Thai restaurant.

As told to Susan Ninan

#1. PV Sindhu, Olympic silver, 2016

It was my first Olympics so all my mind was wound around was just playing the best I possibly could. I wasn't thinking as far as a medal, wasn't expecting it either. But making the semis and then going past [Nozomi] Okuhara to enter the finals was a hugely emotional moment for me.

The final turned out to be a really long match and [Carolina] Marin fought brilliantly. We both were spent at the end of it and I was just telling myself, 'You've had an incredible week and an Olympic silver medal is really not bad'. When I saw Marin sob, I couldn't stop myself from going over, hugging her and telling her how well she'd played. Once I climbed that podium, my life changed. Suddenly expectations skyrocketed.

The best thing I have enjoyed about all of it though is the limelight that it brought upon me. I still savour every bit of it.

[Coach] Pullela Gopichand: For our sport, Sindhu's medal was certainly a defining moment. As a nation we'd gone into the 2016 Olympics expecting to surpass our London haul, but until the fag end of the Games we hadn't managed to win any medals.

The build-up towards a prospective rich medal tally also amplified the collective disappointment. The night before the semifinals, the thought that we could still go home without a medal was thrashing about in my mind. Back then, Sindhu was a nobody. Not many of us were expecting that she would get so far ahead in the competition in the first place. There was some conviction from my end, I don't think Sindhu imagined herself going so deep into the draw.

Once she had won the semifinal and assured herself a medal, we were thrilled. The final turned out to be a close one and it was natural for me to think she should have won the gold maybe but every time it cropped up in my head I told myself that I should celebrate the silver rather than brood over the lost gold.

It was a long Olympics and I was totally exhausted by the end of Sindhu's final. I did manage to have some chocolates in celebration before I retired to our apartment for the night. Sindhu and Wang were out in the park well past midnight, riding the swings and see-saws, like little girls. I had no clue she had slipped out and was literally worried where she'd disappeared. They returned around 1am to the flat with sorry faces like kids who'd been caught stealing candies.

It was only once we landed in the country, though, that the enormity of the achievement really hit us.

That medal also changed my perception of sport. Until then I was sort of convinced that taking to sport as a nation, being fit and active was perhaps more important than producing champions. But that changed when I returned to India after Rio and saw the effect the medal had on the collective psyche of the nation. It had uplifted everyone, no matter what they were doing in life. Only sport, I learnt, had the power to do that.

As told to Susan Ninan