*Image credit BBC News

The BBC on Monday shortlisted five sportspersons for its fourth edition of the Indian Sportswoman of the Year (ISWOTY) award. 

Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, wrestlers Sakshee Malik, Vinesh Phogat, shuttler  PV Sindhu and boxer Nikhat Zareen are the contenders for this prestigious award to be announced on the fifth of March. 

 Talking to media persons here, the Head of India BBC News, Rupa Jha said that at that ceremony the BBC will also honour an iconic sportswoman with a Lifetime Achievement award, as well as presenting the award for Indian Para Sportswoman of the Year and Indian Emerging Player of the Year. 

She said that a panel selected by the BBC compiled the shortlist of five Indian sportswomen. The jury includes some of the most authoritative sports journalists, experts and writers across India. 

Mirabai Chanu ; At the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, she set two Games as she successfully defended her title. She then won silver at the World Championships in Bogota. 

In 2021, she became the first Indian weightlifter to win a silver medal at an Olympic Games.  

Sakshee Malik made a stunning return to the wrestling world in 2022, winning the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham. She won her third Commonwealth medal, after silver in 2014 and bronze in 2018. 

The 30-year-old created history in 2016, when she became the first female Indian wrestler to win an Olympic medal, with bronze at the Rio Games. 

Vinesh Phogat completed an impressive hat-trick of Commonwealth Games wrestling gold medals in 2022. After previous success at 48kg (2014) and 50kg (2018), she was victorious in the 53kg division in Birmingham. 

The 28-year-old then added to her medal haul at the 2022 World Championships in Belgrade, winning bronze, to become the first Indian woman to win two world medals. 

PV Sindhu has set new standards in the sport for Indian women. In 2022, she won the women's singles at the Commonwealth Games, She also took home a silver medal from Birmingham in the mixed team event and was the flag-bearer for the Indian team at the opening ceremony. 

She is the first Indian woman to win two individual medals at the Olympic Games - silver in Rio was followed by a bronze medal in Tokyo.  She won three BWF World Tour titles in 2022, including the Singapore Open. 

Nikhat Zareen (boxing) Last year was a golden one for her. The 26-year-old came through five fights to win flyweight gold at the World Boxing Championships in Istanbul. Then, she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.  

Rupa Jha also announced that from this year BBC will also be giving Indian Para-Sportswoman of the Year award “This is to recognize and celebrate women Para-athletes and their terrific Journey"

Gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Para Games Ekta Bhyan who was present at the press conference said “Such recognition will help in increasing public awareness and inclusivity of Para-sports” 

 Beijing Olympics medal winner boxer Vijender Singh who also addressed the media said “Our sportswomen have proven their caliber on the grounds time and again. They are the real fighters, it is not easy to quantify how much respect they truly deserve”

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