Nike recently released a powerful ad that celebrates India’s female athletes. The video features these sporty women running, jumping surfing, swimming, and more, as they display their fiercely competitive spirit. Da Da Ding, an upbeat and catchy rap track from M.I.A. collaborator Gener8ion, provides the perfect heart-pumping background music to the great ad. This fabulous video, which urges you to go out and play a sport, also features a movie star who has been a national level badminton player, Deepika Padukone. Watch the video here.
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While the video has gone viral and has been widely appreciated by viewers, many are unfamiliar with the sportswomen who feature in it. From a surfer to a soccer star, here are the formidable female athletes who are rocking it in this viral ad.
1. Rani Rampal
Rani Rampal was merely 15 years old when she joined the Indian women’s national field hockey team. The feisty forward is also the only Indian to have been nominated for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Women’s Young Player of the Year Award in 2010. Hailing from Shahabad Markanda, a small town near Delhi, Rani’s electric speed, superior stick work and confidence have inspired many budding sportswomen to follow their dreams.
2. Joshna Chinappa
Currently at a career-high world ranking of World No. 10 this month, Joshna Chinappa is India’s leading squash player. Behind her impressive world ranking lies a steely resolve, a gruelling training schedule and a clutch of truly gritty performances. Arjuna awardee Joshna Chinappa was the youngest Indian women’s national champion in squash and is also the only Indian to win the British Squash Championship title.
3. Namrata Purohit
The youngest certified Stott Pilates instructor in the world, Namrata Purohit is also a national level squash player, a footballer, a certified scuba diver, and a successful entrepreneur. As a 16-year-old, Namrata fell off a horse and had to undergo knee surgery that ended her sporting career in squash. But she didn’t let the tragedy stop her. On her father’s advice, she gave Stott Pilates a try, underwent the entire course and soon set up The Pilates Studio in Mumbai. Her studio is the first in the world to have pilates and a simulated altitude training room under one roof.
4. Jyoti Ann Burrett
The striker of the Indian women’s football team, Jyoti Ann Burrett, may look petite but she packs quite a punch on the field. This Dehradun girl started with freestyle football juggling but her passion for the sport compelled her to strive hard to get into the Indian women’s football team. Choosing a full-time career in football over a corporate job, this St Stephen’s alumnus decided to chase her dreams in this male-dominated sport rather than let society tell her what she could do.
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5. Smriti Mandana
A key batswoman in the Indian women’s cricket team, Smriti Mandana was just nine when she was picked for Maharashtra’s Under-15 team. Smriti caught the attention of the cricketing community when, as a spunky 16-year-old, she scored a half-century in her Test debut to help her side win against England. Focused and serious on the field, Smriti is quite the prankster off it and loves listening to Arijit Singh songs.
6. Subhlakshmi Sharma
Another formidable member of the Indian women’s cricket team, pacer Subhalakshmi Sharma is the only player from Jharkhand to make it to the team. Hailing from Hazaribagh, young Subhalakshmi used to compete fiercely against her five brothers in just about every sport she could play, including cricket. So committed was she to cricket that she convinced her father to allow her to seriously pursue the game at a professional level. A regular on the women’s team today, Subhalakshmi relishes the opportunity to show the world that cricket is not just a man’s game.
7. Ishita Malaviya
India’s first professional female surfer, Ishita Malaviya has co-founded one of the country’s premier surf schools, Shaka Surf Club in Udupi, along with her partner Tushar Pathiyan. Introduced to surfing through a German exchange student while in college, Ishita and Tushar grew to love the sport so much that they decided to set up a surf school despite parental opposition. Today, their school teaches the next generation of the country to swim and surf and has become a force to reckon with in the Indian surfing world.
8. Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar
Vice-captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, Harmanpreet Kaur is the first Indian woman cricketer to be signed by an overseas Twenty20 franchise. She has recently signed up with Sydney Thunder, the reigning Women’s Big Bash League champions, for the second edition of the Australian T20 league. Young Harmanpreet used to travel 20 km from her village home to the training ground in Moga every day and on her first international hundred against England, the entire village celebrated her success.
9. Tanvie Hans
Delhi girl Tanvie Hans is India’s first woman footballer who plays the sport professionally in Europe. An alumnus of Vasant Valley School, the first school in Delhi to have a girls’ football team, Tanvie loved playing football from her school days. Tanvie went for her Master’s to the University of Exeter in England, and this is where her tryst with football made her strive harder to take up the game professionally. All her hard work paid off when in July 2013, Tanvie was picked by the Tottenham Hotspurs Ladies FC to play for them.
10. Shweta Hakke
Sprinter Shweta Hakke rewrote another record when she clinched the women’s 100m gold with her outstanding 12.55 secs sprint at the Mumbai City (Suburban) Athletic meet in 2015. It was her second record-breaking gold of the day, after having also won the long jump gold. Over the years, this Kandivali girl’s stupendous efforts have set many new records in the city’s athletics arena. Shweta trains at the VPM Sports Club ground in Dahisar and is the daughter of a sports teacher and bank manager.
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