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ESPN India Awards 2021: Full list of winners

Neeraj Chopra poses for pictures after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

365 days, 52 weeks, a raging pandemic, thrilling Olympic and Paralympic Games, twenty-six medals across both, and countless tales of sporting glory and resurgence. It has been one of India's best-ever sporting years and we have the honour of crowing the best.

Here are ESPN India's Awards, 2021:


Athlete of the year, male: Neeraj Chopra

87.58 metres: The measure of greatness

Close your eyes for a moment and you can see it all again. Floppy hair tied in a bandana. Biceps rippling in a dark blue sleeveless T. The run-up, starting off at a light jog, increasing in ferocity before ending in an explosion of studied violence. The javelin soaring into the night, just going and going and going. The arms held aloft, index fingers pointing at the sky. The roar. The greatness. - Anirudh Menon

Athlete of the year, female: Mirabai Chanu

A titan with badass biceps and the widest smiles who just doesn't give up

Humara sapna poora ho gaya (Our dream has been fulfilled), the one with the silver medal spoke between snuffles. A nation three and a half hours away woke up to the Olympics and its new genial hero of badass biceps, widest smiles and a titanium will that just wouldn't give up. - Susan Ninan

Coach of the year: Sjoerd Marijne

Chak De Marijne: Coach of the year, coach in a generation

There were tears that followed but they should have been ones of pride in what the team had achieved. Under Marijne, they had gone from being no hopers - an afterthought almost for the federation - to one of the highlights of the Indian performance in Tokyo. - Jonathan Selvaraj

Para Athlete of the year: Avani Lekhara

Record breaker Avani Lekhara is just getting started

In a year that featured a litany of great para sports performances by Indians, there were plenty of strong contenders for the para athlete of 2021. While any of them would have been deserving, Avani Lekhara ultimately wins it for creating history and being a pathbreaker for Indian para shooting. - Mohit Shah

Team of the year: Indian women's hockey team

Indian women's hockey and their fourteen day tryst with immortality

Like 1983 inspired millions of kids to pick up cricket bats, 2021 inspired scores of girls to pick up hockey sticks. There will be a medal for the Indian women's hockey team in the years to come. When it does come, we'll know that it all started in an incredible fourteen-day spell in Tokyo. - Sunaadh Sagar

Emerging Athletes of the year: Avani Lekhara, Shaili Singh, Salima Tete

Avani, Shaili, Salima Tete shine in 2021, set standards for years to come

The three young women who made it to the final list were chosen on a simple principle... teen talent tested at the toughest of tournaments, promising performances that meant more for Indian sport than the result on paper. - Zenia D'Cunha

Match of the year: India vs Australia, women's hockey Olympic quarterfinal

60 minutes to birth a legend: India's epic 1-0 win over Australia in Tokyo was truly a match for the ages

2021 did give us plenty of stellar matches, but there shouldn't be much debate about the winner. Even if this game didn't result in a medal, in the larger scheme of things, a medal was not needed to validate the team's sensational achievement - Anish Anand