National sports awards given away

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PROUD MOMENT: M.S. Dhoni’s father Pan Singh receives the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pratibha Patil.
PROUD MOMENT: M.S. Dhoni’s father Pan Singh receives the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pratibha Patil.

Sports Reporter

M.S. Dhoni’s father receives the Khel Ratna on his behalf

NEW DELHI: President Pratibha Patil on Friday gave away the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for 2007 to Indian cricket team’s one-day captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Since Dhoni was playing the fifth and final one-day international against Sri Lanka, his father Pan Singh received the award on his behalf.

The Khel Ratna Award, given for the most spectacular and outstanding performance in sports, carries a medal, a ceremonial dress, a scroll of honour and a cash prize of Rs. five lakh. Dhoni is only the second cricketer to receive the Khel Ratna after Sachin Tendulkar.

Besides, 11 sportspersons were given Arjuna Award for the year 2007 for outstanding contribution in sports and games. The award carries a statuette of Arjuna, a scroll of honour, ceremonial dress and cash award of Rs three lakh. The awardees were Chitra K. Soman (athletics), Anup Sridhar (badminton), Johnson Varghese (boxing), Harika Dronavali (chess), Arjun Atwal (golf), Prabhjot Singh (hockey), Tombi Devi (judo), Bajranglal Takhar (rowing), Avneet Kaur Sidhu (shooting), Alka Tomar (wrestling) and Farman Basha (powerlifting-disabled).

The absentees

Of the Arjuna Awardees, three were not present to receive their Award due to prior international commitments. Harika’s sister Anusha received the Award for the chess player, who is playing a tournament in Russia, while Atwal’s father Harminder Singh Atwal received it on behalf of the golfer, who is playing in the Nationwide Tour in the U.S. Basha, busy in an international meet in Malaysia, had his wife to receive the award.

Four coaches — Sanjeeva Kumar Singh (archery), Jagdish Singh (boxing), G.E. Sridharan (volleyball) and Jagminder Singh (wrestling) — were conferred the Dronacharya Award for 2007 for successfully training sportspersons and enabling them to achieve outstanding results. The award comprises a statuette of Guru Dronacharya, a scroll of honour, ceremonial dress and a cash prize of Rs. three lakh.

Three former athletes, who have contributed to sports by their performance and continue to contribute for promotion of sports even after their retirement, were honoured with the Dhyan Chand Award for the year 2008. They were Hakam Singh (athletics), Mukhbain Singh (hockey) and Gian Singh (wrestling). A plaque, a scroll of honour, a ceremonial dress and cash prize of Rs. three lakh forms the award.

Punjabi University was awarded the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy for best all-round performance during 2007. The varsity got a replica of the trophy, a cash award of Rs 10 lakh, which is to be utilised for the development of sports and games.

The Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award was given to Subedar Neel Chand, Nb. Subedar Mohinder Singh, Air Commodore Tushar Kanti Rath and Capt. M.S. Kohli for outstanding achievement in the field of adventure activities. The award comprises a bronze statue, a scroll of honour, a blazer with a tie and cash prize of Rs. three lakh.

Dronacharya Awardee Jagdish, who was in the centre of controversy after claims of a criminal case pending against him, asserted that he deserved the award.

“There is no criminal case against me. People were trying to frame me. I deserved the award and I am very happy to have received it at a time when boxing is making waves in the country. This award will mean we will work harder,” he said.

Ace hockey forward Prabhjot was delighted to receive the award. He pointed out that a hue and cry was being made of the Indian hockey team’s performance.

“If you see our performance we did reasonably well in all tournaments. It was unfortunate that we did not qualify for the Olympics, but the standard of hockey has not gone down drastically. This is a recognition for the efforts we put in all these years,” he said.

Speaking on wrestler Sushil Kumar’s bronze medal-winning performance in the Olympics, Gian Singh, another Dronacharya Award winner, opined that coaching should be imparted with proper planning.

“We need good international standard facilities to produce more medal winners. Otherwise one or two like Sushil will come out once in a while. Besides, coaching should be done in a planned manner. “If we are hiring foreign coaches, then they should be hired for youngsters. There is no point in bringing on foreign coaches for seniors as they had a set style by the time they reach a certain level,” Gian said.

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