This awesome foursome brought home the most unlikely gold and changed our idea of a sport

Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Rupa Rani Tirkey celebrate their Commonwealth Games gold medal. Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Lovely Choubey: a former 100m sprinter and police constable from Jharkhand.

Pinki: an ex-cricketer and PE teacher from Delhi.

Rupa Rani Tirkey: a former kabaddi player and district sports officer from Jharkhand.

Nayanmoni Saikia: an ex-weightlifter and forest officer from Assam.

They took a relatively unknown sport to the national headlines, changed our idea of it and fired up the imaginations of sports fans across the country. For winning the gold medal in lawn bowls at the Commonwealth Games, they are ESPN India's Team of the Year (2022).

India won a total of 61 medals at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Out of which 22 were gold. While each medal medal holds great significance, the most special one was won by the above team of four: a gold in the women's fours category of the lawn bowls after defeating South Africa in a proper thriller. It was India's first-ever CWG medal in lawn bowls.

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How often do you see a lawn bowl medal being celebrated so grandly across the country? Sports websites ran live blogs bringing minute-by-minute action from the final. News channels flashed the victory as breaking news and ran packages for days. The back pages of newspapers led with multiple stories about the win. Celebrities from various fields took to social media to offer their congratulations. The four athletes had become an inspiration to a nation of 1.3 billion.

The Commonwealth Games lawn bowls story, until then, had been about near misses. Not this time, though.

"We used to lose by one point. But this time we decided that we will not lose by one point and we will bring back the medal," Lovely had said.

The determination to win was evident in the semifinal against the more fancied New Zealand. India were trailing 6-1 after four Ends but made a terrific comeback to make it 10-10. With one End to go, the team was behind at 12-13. With the final throw of the match, Rupa Rani turned the deficit into a stunning three-point lead to ensure India qualify for the final and confirm a medal.

In the final against South Africa, India raced to an 8-2 after End 7. But it was never going to be this easy. South Africa made a comeback to take a 10-8 lead with four Ends left to play and the momentum had shifted completely. A silver for the team still could've been a remarkable achievement.

But it would take a lot more to beat this quartet. They capitalised on two poor Ends from South Africa and opened up a five-point lead. They added two more points in the final End to make it 17-10 and take home the gold medal.

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The four of them sunk to their knees in joy and celebrated with a group hug. It was a sight to behold - a moment so pure that it was impossible to not be moved by it.

"After we confirmed the medal yesterday, we went back thinking that tomorrow we will go into the gold medal match with the same passion and continue our teamwork. We didn't get much sleep at night wondering what would happen if we lost. These things kept coming into our minds but we thought that whatever God willed would happen," Rupa Rani said after the match.

Since Independence, Indian sports has seen quite a few teams who became legendary for their accomplishments. Cricket, football, hockey, badminton, volleyball -- all have given their fair share of famous teams. There's no doubt that the lawn bowls women's fours team of the 2022 Commonwealth Games belongs in the same category.