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From the resurgence of badminton queen Saina Nehwal to Dipa Karmakar’s golden glory post a two-year injury lay-off, 2018 was a year of stunning comebacks by Indian athletes. Here are the nominees for the Comeback of the Year award.

Deepika Kumari

Former World No. 1 Deepika Kumari had a disappointing Asian Games — making an early exit in the individual competition and losing (along with Atanu Das) in the quarterfinals of the mixed team event in recurve archery — but 2018 also saw her make a return to winning ways. In June, Deepika won gold in the recurve individual event at the World Cup in Salt Lake City, US and in September she won a bronze at the Archery World Cup Final in Samsun, Turkey — ample proof that she remains a strong contender at the biggest events.

Related: Deepika Kumari wins individual gold at Archery World Cup


Dipa Karmakar

Dipa Karmakar, who had to undergo a surgery after suffering an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury two years ago, continued her steady return to the top level in 2018. She missed the Commonwealth Games and could not medal at the Asian Games but showed excellent form to win gold in the vault event at the World Challenge Cup in Turkey. Later in the year, she won bronze in the same event at the World Cup in Germany. Suddenly, Tokyo 2020 does not seem too far.

Related: Dipa Karmakar wins gold on return from injury


Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal had her best year since an injury threatened to end her career in 2016. Despite some reverses — such as the loss to Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in the first round of the All England Open — she will look back at 2018 fondly. She made the quarterfinals at the World Championships and won medals at the Asian Games (bronze) and Commonwealth Games (gold). Overall, it was the year Saina showed she wasn’t done yet.

Related: Saina: ‘I would place this medal next to my Olympic bronze’


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