PV Sindhu completed a hat-trick of ESPN India's top honours after being named Sportsperson of the Year (Female) for 2019. In addition, her victory against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, which made her the first Indian to have claimed the World Championships in badminton, was chosen as Moment of the Year.
Last year's best emerging athlete, shooter Saurabh Chaudhary, won the Sportsperson of the Year (Male) award, and also emerged with most votes for the Team of the Year award with his phenomenal run in mixed team pistol shooting alongside Manu Bhaker.
The winners were selected on the basis of votes by a 16-member panel of some of the biggest names in the sports fraternity, including anchor and commentator Harsha Bhogle, the first Indian woman to win gold at a shooting World Cup, Anjali Vedpathak Bhagwat, India's first woman tennis player to have won a match in a Grand Slam singles main draw, Nirupama Vaidyanathan Sanjeev, World Championships medallists in their respective sports in Anju Bobby George (athletics) and Jwala Gutta (badminton), and senior journalist Rohit Brijnath.
The ESPN.in Awards 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 full list of winners:
Lifetime Achievement award: Balbir Singh Sr.
This year's lifetime achievement goes to three-time Olympic gold medallist and former Indian hockey captain Balbir Singh Sr., who starred in India's wins in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956), wearing the captain's armband in the third of those campaigns. Balbir's five goals in a 6-1 final win against Netherlands in 1952 is also a record for most goals scored by an individual in an Olympic final. Balbir was the manager for the Indian team when they won their only World Cup till date, in Kuala Lumpur in 1975.
Sportsperson of the Year (Female): PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu's third successive such award comes on the back of an accomplishment no Indian badminton player had achieved before her -- securing the singles title at the BWF World Championships. Her dominant run culminated in a thrashing of Japan's Nozomi Okuhara that lasted a little more than 30 minutes.
Closest contenders: Rani Rampal and MC Mary Kom
Sportsperson of the Year (Male): Saurabh Chaudhary
Pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary had a phenomenal year, winning five gold medals in World Cups through the year in his pet event 10m air pistol. Two of them came in the individual category, and three of them in the mixed team event.
Closest contenders: Bajrang Punia and Amit Panghal
Comeback of the Year: Koneru Humpy
Chess player Koneru Humpy, who had taken a maternity break from the sport between 2016 and 2018, claimed her first World Championship title with a win at the Women's World Rapid Chess Championship in December 2019.
Closest contenders: Rupinder Pal Singh and Ritu Phogat
Emerging Sportsperson of the Year: Deepak Punia
Freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia marked himself out as a potential medal hopeful for India at the 2020 Olympics with twin successes at the World Championships in his sport in the 86kg category. First, he won the Junior World gold at the start of the year, and then made the senior final in the World Championships later in the year. He had to be content with silver in his endeavour to complete a rare double, having withdrawn from the final due to injury.
Closest contenders: Elavenil Valarivan and Diksha Dagar
Coach of the Year: Pullela Gopichand
Pullela Gopichand, ESPN India's Coach of the Year during the inaugural season of the awards in 2017, reclaimed his title thanks largely to Sindhu's World Championship crown. With a big year in Indian badminton looming on the horizon thanks to Tokyo, Gopichand's inputs as coach will remain invaluable.
Closest contenders: S Raman and Vimal Kumar
Team of the Year: Manu Bhaker-Saurabh Chaudhary
The young 10m air pistol mixed team of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary virtually swept away all competition during the year's World Cups in their event, marking their potential to contribute a medal for India in Tokyo.
Closest contenders: National women's hockey team and men's sprint cycling team
Differently-abled Athlete of the Year: Manasi Joshi
Manasi Joshi, who trains at Pullela Gopichand's academy, picked up gold in the women's singles badminton at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in Basel, adding to a silver and bronze that she had won at the event in previous editions.
Closest contenders: Sandeep Chaudhary and Pramod Bhagat
Moment of the Year: PV Sindhu's World Championships final win
Sindhu had made it close to the top crown in badminton's World Championships before, but her dominant run to the crown in 2019 found the perfect exclamation mark with a 37-minute 21-7, 21-7 demolition of Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in the final.
Closest contenders: Rani Rampal's goal to help Indian women's hockey team qualify for Tokyo, and the Indian men's football team drawing 0-0 against Asian champions Qatar in a World Cup qualifier away.
The Courage award: Dutee Chand
Dutee Chand has fought challenges all through her short but eventful career as an athlete, most notably when her name featured in the controversial hypoandrogenism regulations of the IAAF, global athletics' governing body. Dutee eventually got a ruling in her favour to earn the right to race again. In 2019, she became the first Indian athlete to come out in the open about a same-sex relationship. ESPN's Courage award is a hat-tip to her seemingly simple act of speaking out fearlessly, something that drew respect and admiration from the global sporting community.