These are heady days for Indian sport. In various disciplines, hitherto unchartered territories, men and women, both individually or part of the national team are performing at a level hardly achieved before. The seeds for this upsurge in the fortunes of Indian sport were sown last year at the Asian Games at Hangzhou where India for the first time crossed the 100-medal mark.

Or perhaps, the seeds were sown even earlier when India won an unprecedented seven medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 including a historic gold for Neeraj Chopra. Calls were made then to build upon these success stories and certainly there has been no slackening in the performances going by India’s recent showing at international events.

Yes, there is a sea of change in the Indian sports scene in general. Not only are newer talents emerging but they are also ready to exhibit their abilities in a stunning way to make everyone believe that ‘India can also do it’ at the highest level of sport.

There is little doubt that it was Neeraj Chopra’s exploits with the javelin that set the tone with his imperious show at the international level.

His world champion success and the Olympic champion tag are the priceless crowns that don his proud head. That has seemingly inspired Indian sportspersons across all disciplines.

Take for example one sport that India has hardly excelled in world events – table tennis. Hosting the World championships thrice did little to inspire the players.

Even though there has been marked improvement in recent years thanks to the efforts of Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra in team events India made little progress. Now history has been made with both the Indian men’s and women’s team qualifying for the Olympic Games at Paris for the first time.

Both the squads made it through the World team rankings which have the men’s team at No 15 while the women are at No 13. A total of 16 teams will take part in the two events.

TTFI secretary Kamlesh Mehta could not hide his joy at the feat.

“It’s a very big achievement. It’s been a long process. A big thanks to the coaches and players who have made it happen’’ gushed the eight-time former national singles champion.”

Sathiyan added, “it is a historic achievement. It’s a double bonanza that the women too have made the grace. Our first goal was to qualify and we have been working very hard for a long time to improve our world rankings. My focus will be on the mixed doubles which I hope to play with Manika.’’

Kamal, a veteran of four Olympics, said it’s great to figure in the quadrennial event as a team for the first time. “It is a surreal feeling. On a personal front this is a significant achievement for me as this will be my last appearance in the Olympics. I have played in the singles event four times but have always wanted to qualify in the team event,’’ he said.

On her part Batra is clearly focused on her goal. “I want to win a medal and I will go with that goal only in my mind and nothing else. I will just focus on putting in the effort without thinking too much about the results,’’ she said.

Badminton is another sport where the Indians have been excelling and nothing can symbolise this better than the return of P. V. Sindhu to form her quarterfinal entry in the French Open last week being an encouraging result.

The last time she made it to a singles quarter final was in October last year at the Danish Open. Following an injury that saw a slump in her form she returned to the circuit in February to lead India to their first Asia team championship title.

In between Sindhu shifted her base to Bangalore to train with Indonesia’s Agus Santoso under the watchful eyes of the legendary Prakash Padukone. At Paris Prakash was in the coach’s seat after a gap of some 25 years giving tips to Sindhu during her matches.

Sindhu was quick to thank Prakash for helping her. “What makes it even more special is having a true legend of Indian badminton by my side taking on a coaching assignment after 25 years just to be in my corner. Prakash sir I hope this is the beginning of many more memorable moments together,’’ Sindhu said.

It was a creditable performance by Sindhu, coming back after a rather long injury lay off to get the better of the world No. 10 Beiwen Zhang of the USA before going down to the reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei of China in three hard fought games 24-22, 17-21, 18-21. Surely it is only a matter of time before the mentally tough 28-year-old sportswoman returns to the form that has seen her win the world title as well as two Olympic medals.

What is even more heartening to see in various sports is the emergence of young talent that is making the country proud. Still on badminton, the recent success of the Indian women’s team in getting a historic gold.

The Asia Team Championship at Malaysia saw Sindhu providing the inspiration in the initial contribution in the final against Thailand. But with the match score 2-2, the whole focus was on the ability of a teenager Anmol Kharb to bear the heavy load of high expectations.

The 17-year-old Kharb turned a gem under pressure and seized the moment for India. It was an incredible show of grit and guts from this national champion as she courted glory.

What is praiseworthy is that Kharb has not come up from any major academies but through her single-minded devotion, dedication and struggle in the sport. When she won the national women’s singles crown, this Faridabad girl had signalled her readiness for bigger challenges.

The Malaysia event proved the point and for India one more reason to rejoice, for here is another gem ready for bigger things ahead.

And to complete the happy picture on Sunday the world No. 1 doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lived up to their reputation by winning the French Open title for a second time defeating P. H. Yang and J. H. Lee of Taiwan 21-11, 21-17 in the final. After winning the Super 750 tournament for their first title of the season Chirag said “it feels really sweet. Paris has always been special for us and we have played some really good badminton here.’’

Then we have the chess prodigy R. Praggnanandhaa, all of 18, who made history by becoming the youngest player to reach the final of the Chess World Cup. The finest Indian player after the maestro Viswanathan Anand Pragg along with Vidit Gujrathi and D. Gukesh, will be among the eight players who will be seen in action in the Candidates tournament to be held in Canada in April.

The winner plays the reigning world champion Ding Liren of China. Pragg had beaten him in the Tata Steel event early this year, the second Indian after Anand to beat a reigning world champion in classical chess.

Even the Test series triumph against England was largely scripted by youngsters. In the absence of many established stars due to various reasons Shubman Gill, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel and Yashasvi Jaiswal gloriously rose to the occasion and were the heroes of the comeback 4-1 victory. And as the icing on the cake India are No 1 across all three formats in the ICC rankings.