Athletes N.A. Shameermon and M.A. Prajusha have been picked for the 2011 G.V. Raja award — the highest sporting honour of the State — by the Kerala State Sports Council.
Announcing this selection at a press conference here on Friday, the Sports Minister, K.B. Ganesh Kumar said though only one athlete was normally chosen for the award, the KSSC had earlier this year decided to give it to two athletes — one each in the men’s and women’s section.
The award for 2011 was decided upon after considering the performances of the top Kerala athletes during the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons.
The award winners will be given Rs. 1 lakh and a plaque and this would be distributed at a function to be held later after considering the convenience of the award winning athletes.
Shammermon had represented the country at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and was a member of the bronze medal winning Indian team in the 4x100m relay.
Prajusha had won a silver medal in the women’s long jump at the New Delhi CWG.
In the media awards category, Ansar S. Raj (Kerala Kaumudi), Joemon Pambavally (Janayugom) and Jeena Paul (Manorama News) were chosen as the Best Sports Reporter, Best Sports Photographer and Best Television Journalist.
While Ansar and Jeena would be presented with a cheque for Rs. 10,000 and a plaque each, Joemon will be awarded Rs. 5,000 and a plaque.
Answering questions, Ganesh Kumar said the Government was hopeful of conducting the 35th National Games by the end of next year. Preparations were in full swing at all the seven identified centres.
Certain issues including the lapses on the part of the contractors were brought to the notice of the National Games Secretariat and corrective measures on this have already been taken.
He said the focus of the Government was to provide the best of facilities to athletes and with this view in mind a comprehensive plan has been drawn out to establish synthetic surfaces in varied disciplines across the State.
Five swimming pools would be constructed this year utilising the funds of the KSSC and the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs.
Ganesh Kumar said that it was unfortunate that the Kochi Corporation stood in the way of the upgrading of the sports hostel now being run by the KSSC at Panamappally Nagar in Ernakulam to a High Performance Training Centre.
The Corporation wanted to dig up a drain right through the middle of the sports hostel campus despite the protests already registered by the KSSC and the local residents.
“Now a case regarding this is pending before the Kerala High Court and the Government was waiting for a final outcome.
“I think wisdom would prevail over Kochi Corporation authorities and give up their current plans for the benefit of sports in the State,” he added.