Neeraj Chopra hogs the limelight, wins Sportstar of the Year award

Mirabai is Sportstar of the Year in women’s section; Ajit Pal bags Lifetime Achievement award; Lovlina, Avani, Pramod, Savita and Rupinder Pal among other winners

March 20, 2022 03:34 am | Updated 06:15 pm IST - MUMBAI

Recognising excellence: Neeraj Chopra, who received the Sportstar of the Year (Male) award from fellow Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra (second from right), with Leander Paes and Malini Parthasarathy, Chairperson, The Hindu Group, at the Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai on March 19, 2022.

Recognising excellence: Neeraj Chopra, who received the Sportstar of the Year (Male) award from fellow Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra (second from right), with Leander Paes and Malini Parthasarathy, Chairperson, The Hindu Group, at the Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai on March 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra claimed the coveted ‘Sportstar of the Year (Male)’ award at the 2022 Sportstar Aces Awards held at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel here on Saturday.

Neeraj, the reigning Olympic javelin throw champion, stated that his tryst with the sport started as a fitness routine. “We athletes will continue to work hard, and try to take our country to the top of the world,” Neeraj said.

Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, received the ‘Sportstar of the Year (Female)’ award. Mirabai was unable to attend the event.

An evening to remember: The award winners pose for a keepsake.

An evening to remember: The award winners pose for a keepsake. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Lovlina Borgohain (Sportswoman of the Year, Individual Sports), Avani Lekhara (Parathlete of the Year, Female), Pramod Bhagat (Special Recognition award), Savita (Sportswoman of the Year, Team Sports), and Rupinder Pal Singh (Sportsman of the Year, Team Sports) were some of the awardees present at the event.

The jury panel was headed by legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar. Former India hockey captain M.M. Somaya, chess stalwart Viswanathan Anand, former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia and Olympians Anjali Bhagwat and Aparna Popat were the other members of the jury.

Tennis star Leandar Paes, Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, table tennis great Kamlesh Mehta, former international hockey player and Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh, former India cricketers Syed Kirmani, Mohammad Azharuddin, Diana Edulji, and Dilip Vengsarkar were some of the dignitaries present on the occasion.

Moment to cherish: Avani Lekhara, winner of the parathlete of the year award, received a standing ovation.

Moment to cherish: Avani Lekhara, winner of the parathlete of the year award, received a standing ovation. | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

Truly special

“To receive this award in front of sportspersons I have admired is truly special. After my Olympics medal, this is the most special award for me,” Bhagat said.

Savita and Rupinder dedicated their individual awards to their teammates.

Former Indian hockey team captain Ajit Pal Singh was conferred the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award. Ajit was part of two Olympic bronze-winning teams, including one at the 1972 Munich Games. “Leander’s father Vece and I shared the same room at the 1972 Munich Olympics. There was an ugly and scary incident (the terror attack at the Games), but luckily we were not affected,” the 74-year-old Ajit Pal said.

Laced with humour: Ajit Pal Singh, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, had the gathering in splits with his anecdotes.

Laced with humour: Ajit Pal Singh, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, had the gathering in splits with his anecdotes. | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

A mentor’s compliment: Anand heaped praise on Nihal Sarin, winner of the Young Athlete of the year award.

A mentor’s compliment: Anand heaped praise on Nihal Sarin, winner of the Young Athlete of the year award. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

“The Aces Awards celebrate the spirit of excellence in sport and hope to inspire our athletes and sportspersons to continue to strive to break new records and reach new pinnacles of glory. We also hope to inspire millions of fans who have invested heavily in the dream of India as a major sporting power,” Malini Parthasarathy, Chairperson, The Hindu Group, said.

“It is wonderful to see our champions here tonight. Their efforts have brought great joy to the nation when everything seemed lost due to the pandemic. We are all proud of you,” Ayon Sengupta, Editor, Sportstar, said.

The awards were presented by Byju’s, with IDFC First Bank as the Associate Partner.

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