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5 instances when Indian athletes stood out for their incredible acts of sportsmanship

Birender Lakra showed how sportsman spirit can be maintained against arch rivals as well
Birender Lakra showed how sportsman spirit can be maintained against arch rivals as well
Divyanshu Gandhi

Indian athletes have been making their mark in almost every sport. Be it men or women, new records are broken regularly and stars are born that make our country proud. India's sportspersons are known not only for their qualities on the field of play but for their ethics and values as well.

Instances of sportsmanship have been demonstrated a number of times by Indian sportspeople across fields. Here are five instances out of the many that prove that sport is above any competition or medal:

#1 Birender Lakra against Pakistan, Asian Champions Trophy 2016

India won the Asia Cup Hockey final against Pakistan last year after a nail-biting and aggressive game from both sides. However, one particular incident involving Birendra Lakra highlighted how sport is above any political tension on the field.

Pakistan were on the attack as they were trailing after Nikkin Thimmaiah had given India the lead with few minutes on the clock remaining. Pakistan's Bilal Aleem was looking to cross the ball to his teammates with 8 minutes left to play. However, the ball touched Lakra and went out oh play. The Men in Green immediately appealed the decision, claiming that the ball hit the defenders leg.

If India were to win this particular match, they would regain the title after five long years. In the last edition India finished fifth, including an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Pakistan. Hence, Lakra could've easily made Pakistan use up their last referral.

The referee wasn't so sure about the corner and he was going to contact the review umpire. But, Lakra came running up to him and said, “It is a penalty corner, please don't use up their last referral, your position was such that you might have missed it.” The referee realized his mistake and immediately halted the review process.

The eventual penalty corner did not yield a goal for Pakistan, but what specifically stood out was the sportsmanship, during a match with really high stakes.

The Pakistan coach K M Junaid even went and embraced Lakra, thanking him for the gesture. Every player of the Pakistan squad thanked him for not leaving the sportsman spirit behind at the most crucial point of the game.

#2 When India's women's kabaddi team stood out for values over competition

Indian women's Kabaddi team did not forget their ethics in the light of tough competition
Indian women's Kabaddi team did not forget their ethics in the light of tough competition

Despite winning every Kabaddi World Cup and Asian Cup till date, there have been times when winning for India has taken a backseat and their incredible sportsmanship is what has made them even bigger champions.

One such instance was during the India vs Iran gold-medal match in the women’s kabaddi event final at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. The stakes were quite high, perhaps more so for India, who were eyeing their second Asian title but even in those nerve-wracking moments the Indian team showed winning is not everything.

During that clash, one of the Iranian raiders, accidentally had her ‘hijab’ displaced while a raid was on. She immediately froze because of the discomfort and could have easily been trapped by the defenders then. Instead, the Indians chose to help her cover her face and put the hijab back in place.

The gesture spoke a million words and warmed countless hearts. Indian skipper Tejaswini Bai, later admitted that it was natural for them to come to her rescue. India did eventually get the better of Iran and won with the scoreline reading 31-21.

#3 PV Sindhu shows her respect for the game after Rio 2016 final

Image result for pv sindhu picks marin racquet
The loss in finals to Marin did not make Sindhu lose her values and the latter helped her opponent out

PV Sindhu had beaten three higher-ranked opponents on the way to the final of her maiden Olympic Games in Rio. However, she fell just short of defeating the eventual champion Carolina Marin of Spain in a classic encounter in the gold medal match.

Sindhu’s glorious giant-killing run was brought to an end, suitably by the World No. 1. Marin had won 19-21, 21-12, 21-15. Sindhu, saddened by the narrow loss sat down on the court. She then waved to the crowd and went to Marin, lifting her to her feet.

It was then that Sindhu did something untypical. She saw Marin's racquet lying on the ground after parting ways, which Marin had flung it in her excitement. Sindhu picked it up, and carefully laid it by the side of the court, alongside Marin's bag.

Her gesture to pick up the racquet shows how much she respects her sport, and how much she respects her opponents.

#4 MS Dhoni: Captain cool and captain kind

Captain cool shows why he is the one of the nicest guys in the game
Captain cool shows why he is one of the nicest guys in the game

Several South African players suffered cramps in the 2015-16 series against India and Faf du Plessis went through the same as he approached his hundred in the Wankhede ODI. He hobbled through a major part of his innings but the pain did not disappear. As du Plessis attempted a slog, he fell over and pulled his hamstring.

MS Dhoni, who was also the South African's captain in the Chennai Super Kings, could see he needed help stretching. He was the first one to volunteer and did not wait for the physios or South African teammates. He held Faf's legs in the air to stretch the muscle while the South African medical staff arrived in a few minutes.

MS Dhoni proved by this gesture why Cricket is known as the gentleman's game and he is a lot more than being just cool.

#5 Yogeshwar Dutt proves he lives by the Olympic spirit

Yogeshwar Dutt asked to give his upgraded silver medal to late Besik Khudukov
Yogeshwar Dutt asked to give his upgraded silver medal to late Besik Khudukov

Yogeshwar Dutt had won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. However, the silver medallist, Besik Khudukov, had later been proven to be guilty of doping charges. This meant Yogeshwar's medal would be upgraded to silver.

He was happy at first on hearing the news, expressing his joy on Twitter. But later, the Haryana-based wrestler said, “Besik Kudukhov was a terrific wrestler. It is sad that his dope test was positive after his death (Kudukhov died in 2013 in a car crash in his home country). As a sportsman, I have great respect for him. The medal should remain with his family if possible. It will keep his family’s honour intact. For me, humanity is above everything,”

Yogeshwar’s response can certainly be considered a symbol of humanity and staying true to the Olympic spirit. However, Khudukov was disqualified but the symbol of humanity and sportsmanship showed by the Indian wrestler made him win many hearts.

Edited by Shraishth Jain

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