THE FANTASTIC FOUR

Mira Erda-1
On the occasion of International Women's Day, we take a look at four members of the fairer sex who are outstanding sports personalities as well
Compiled by Roshni Manghani
 

Tania Sachdev
20 August 1986  | Delhi  | Chess
 

Tania Sachdev-1

Tania Sachdev is one of the most gifted Indian chess players out there and holds the titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster. Tania was introduced to the game by her mother Anju at the tender age of 6 and there has been no looking back since. Tania is a recipient of India’s highest sporting honour, the Arjuna Award, which she received in 2009. In 2017, she won bronze at the Asian Indoor Games in the rapid team chess competitions at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. She also claimed the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Chess Championship in New Delhi. Her early successes include becoming the under-12 Indian champion in 1998, Asian under-14 girls champion in 2000, and Asian girls under-20 champion in 2002. She also won bronze at the World Under-12 Championship in 1998 and, predictably, is a fan of Vishwanathan Anand. Tania became an International master in 2008.

Smriti Mandana
18 July 1996  | Mumbai  | Cricket 
 

Smriti Mandana-1

Hailing from the Sangli district in Maharashtra, like most youngsters in India, this left-handed batswoman too dreamt of donning India's cricket colours. Not one to give up on what others would have passed off as a child's flight of fancy, by the age of nine, she represented Maharashtra in the under-15 team. She went on to get a place in the senior side and ultimately made her India team T20 debut in 2013. She got her reward for all that hard work when she was named vice-captain of the Indian women’s T20 squad for the 2018 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies. Mandana was also given the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2018 for her outstanding achievements in sport. Smriti has also played in the Women's Big Bash league where she played for Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes. In December 2018, the ICC awarded her with the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the best female cricketer of the year, and she was also named the ODI Player of the year.
 

Mira Erda
24 October 2000  | Vadodara, Gujarat  | Motorsports
 

Mira Erda-1

Mira began racing when she was nine years old. Her first race came after just 25 days of training as she competed in the 2010 JK Tyre National Rotax Max Championship in India. Mira's very first international race was in the same year when she competed at the Plus Yamaha SL International Challenge in Malaysia. Podiums and race wins came the following year, in 2011. Back home, Mira drove her way through the starting grid and up to the JK Racing Championship 2014, in the process becoming the youngest Formula 4 girl driver. In 2017, she also became the first Indian woman to race in the Euro JK series, one of the highest classes of Formula racing in India. Mira also became the Formula 4 Rookie Champion of the Year 2016 and was subsequently honoured by India's governing body for all motorsport, the FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India), with the title of Outstanding Woman in Motorsports.

Ashwini Ponnapa
18 September 1989  | India  | Badminton
 

Ashwini Ponnapa-1

While most of you would think of Saina Nehwal the moment we talk about badminton, Ashwini is a two time sub-junior National Champion and two time junior National Champion in women's doubles. She began to display her skill and talent to the world after partnering with Jwala Gutta in 2009. Her first major victory came the following year in 2010 when she bagged a gold medal in women's doubles at the South Asian Games held in Dhaka. Paired with Gutta, the duo became the first Indian doubles pair and the first Indian women to win a World Championship medal in 2011. It was a huge achievement when the duo secured a bronze at Wembley that year since it ended a 28-year drought at the badminton World Championship. Ashwini is a two-time Olympian too having represented India at both the London Olympics in 2012 as well as the Rio Olympic in 2016.