KOA felicitates National awardees

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Olympic Association on Saturday honoured all the five National sports awardees from Karnataka at a simple function here.

Barring the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee, Pankaj Advani, who is playing in a tournament in the U.S., the other winners Aparna Popat and Shikha Tandon (Arjuna), veteran coaches Uday K. Prabhu (Dhyan Chand) and Capt.Venu (Dronacharya) were present.

The Karnataka DGP and IGP, B.S. Sial, presided, while Santosh Hegde of Lok Ayukta, Karnataka was the chief guest. Dr. G. Kishore, Director, SAI (South) Centre, was also present.

Mr. Sial struck the right chord when he observed: "the athletes, whom we are honouring are the ones who deserve to be on the dais and not us."

Mr. Hegde lauded the winners for succeeding in their chosen sphere of sports despite all the odds. "To succeed in Indian sports it needs extraordinary skills given the lack of facilities and dearth of incentives," said Mr. Hegde, while Dr. Kishore noted with satisfaction the role played by SAI in their achievements.

Mr. K. Govindraj, the president of the KOA, said he had represented to the Government that all the awardees from Karnataka be given land in Bangalore and added the Chief Minister would personally honour all the winners at a later date.

Uday K. Prabhu, the former 400m international runner, who spoke on behalf of the awardees, said while he was happy to note that Shikha Tandon and Aparna Popat had got their due in their prime, in his case it had taken him nearly two decades to get the recognition as a coach.

"Maybe for Capt.Venu, who has been an outstanding boxing coach, it might have taken a lot more time, but it is better late than never and I am happy that we all got it during the year of `Swarna Karnataka' celebration," Prabhu said.

Nine-time National badminton champion Aparna Popat, who is on a comeback trial after nursing tendonitis, said she was getting better and would play her first major tournament (PSCB) soon.

Shikha Tandon has recovered from a shoulder surgery. Shikha, said she had already, started swimming, but ruled herself out of the senior Nationals, which gets underway here on September 21.

Mr. Mohan Raj, vice-president of the KOA, proposed a vote of thanks.

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