Fifty-two players from Haryana, including Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Ravi Dahiya, Tokyo Paralympics gold medalist Sumit Antil, Tokyo Paralympics silver medalist Yogesh Kathuniya, Tokyo Paralympic Games silver and bronze medalist Singhraj Adhana and Tokyo Paralympic Games bronze medalist Archer Harvinder Singh, among others, were on Thursday honored with the Bhim Award, the highest sporting honor in the condition.
The award ceremony in Panchkula on Thursday was presided over by Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya. However, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Neeraj Chopra was not present at the award ceremony as she was competing in Europe. Chopra’s family received the award on his behalf. The awardees received Rs 5 lakh in cash along with a citation and a miniature statue of Bhim. The laureates will also receive a monthly honorarium of Rs 5,000 from the Harayan government.
“All of these players have made the state proud with their accomplishments. Haryana has led the country in terms of winning medals nationally and internationally. The state claimed the overall championship trophy at the recently held Khelo India Junior Games with 137 medals. Haryana has also set an example in the country by offering government posts in groups A, B, C and D to 190 athletes. I hope that these players will continue to make our country proud in the future and I wish them all the best,” Governor Dattatreya said.
The awards were given for achievements over the past four years, and while some players were unable to attend the function, Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Ravi Dahiya, along with Tokyo Paralympics gold medalist, Sumit Antil, were the toasts of the event. While ten players received the award for their achievements in 2017-2018, 11 players received the award for the 2018-2019 year.
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Eleven players, including Neeraj Chopra, received the award for 2019-2020, while 11 players, including Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist wrestler Bajrang Punia, received the award for the 2020-2021 year. Eight players, including Ravi Dhahiya, received the award for medals won at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paraathlete Nirmala Devi received the 2014-2015 award of the year.
“When we were kids, we read about players getting the Bhim award or the Arjuna award and we always saw it as a great honor. Receiving the award today is a special feeling for me and my family. It will motivate us to achieve more so that we can make Haryana and India proud by winning medals at the international level,” shared Antil, while speaking to The Indian Express, on Thursday.
Some players also urged the Haryana government to organize the award show every year. “Obtaining the highest sports award in Haryana is a great honor for us. Winning the prize means a lot to all players. When a player receives such an award, the whole family and the town feel proud and this motivates them a lot. The award must be delivered annually. The prize money of Rs 5 lakh is a great help for a player’s training needs,” said World Para Championship bronze medalist Karamjyoti Dalal.
Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh, for his part, said full transparency is maintained in the choice of players for such awards.