A public recognition of outstanding endeavours on the Indian sporting map – this is why the Arjuna Awards are so important. This year, 17 sportspersons from athletics to hockey to cricket have been nominated for the prestigious award. Sports Rediscovered takes a look at the recommendations, and why they make deserving candidates.
1. Sandeep Kumar (Archery)
He took bronze in last year’s National Archery Championships held in New Delhi, and along with Abhishek Verma and Rajat Chauhan, finished second in the Compound men’s team event in the Asian Grand Prix. Whom would the Arjuna award go to if not to the new-age Arjuna?
2. MR Poovamma (Athletics)
The 25-year old sprinter’s most recent achievement has been a gold in the 400 meters at the Inter-state athletics championships held in Chennai. She brought laurels to the country earlier this year at Wuhan, by taking silver in her pet event at the Asian Athletics championships.
3. Mandeep Jangra (Boxing)
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games’ silver medalist might just be 22-years old, but he has already made his mark. Coached by veteran Akhil Kumar, Jangra announced his arrival with a second place finish in the 2013 Asian Amateur Boxing championships.
4. Rohit Sharma (Cricket)
We’ve gotten over his back and bruised him with constant digs. Maybe he’s finally found something which doesn’t require a second try.
5. Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics)
Here’s a woman of many firsts – first ever Indian woman gymnast, first Indian woman gymnast to win a Commonwealth medal, and the first Indian woman gymnast with a podium finish in the Artistic Gymnastics Asian Championships.
6. PR Sreejesh (Hockey)
Gandalf has risen (sans flowing beard), but he has close-cropped hair and speaks Malayalam. KR Sreejesh lends grace to the Indian hockey team, standing guard in front of the goal posts, bellowing “You shall not pass!” Keeping in mind his antics during the 2014 Asian Games finals, a deserving candidate indeed.
7. Jitu Rai (Shooting)
The 27-year old is on a roll. He bagged two golds in the National Games this year, and followed it up with a bronze in the ISSF World Cup in Changwon. He had a stellar 2014 too; click here to know more about Rai’s 2014 performances.
8. Sathish Sivalingam (Weightlifting)
Sathish Shivalingam has followed a slow burning trail to perfection. The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medalist was also recently honoured during the TOISA awards.
9. Bajrang Kumar (Wrestling)
The 24-year old bhaijaan has shown that Indian wrestling is in safe hands, with silver medals in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games. Here‘s a look at how he fared in 2014.
10. Babita Kumari Phogat (Wrestling)
The wrestling queen looks poised to become a reel world queen too, with Aamir Khan announcing a new film based on the lives of the Phogat sisters. With a gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth games, a bronze in the World Wrestling Championships and a bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games to her credit, the Haryana-born wrestler does deserve accolades.
11. Sanathoi Devi (Wushu)
Devi brought a bronze home from the Incheon Asian Games last year, forsaking a kidney operation to do so. Quite some commitment, if you ask us.
12. Sharath Gayakwad (Para-Swimming)
The first Indian swimmer to qualify for the Paralympics, the 2014 Asian Games saw him accrue 6 medals to break PT Usha’s record for the most number of medals by an Indian at a multi-disciplined event.
13. Manjeet Chillar (Kabaddi)
Captain of the Bengaluru Bulls, and best defender in the first season of the Pro-Kabaddi League, Chillar already has 19 successful tackles to his credit this season. More reasons why he deserves the nomination? He figured in our list of top defenders!
14. Abhilasha Mhatre (Kabaddi)
Mhatre was part of the team that beat Iran 25-19 to clinch the first women’s Kabaddi World Cup championship title (2013). The Maharashtra native also played a pivotal role in India’s Asian Games victory.
15. Anup Kumar Yama (Roller Skating)
16. Sawarn Singh (Rowing)
The 25-year old shrugged off medical emergencies en route to achieving sporting brilliance at the men’s Single Sculls event at the 2014 Asian Games. It is this spirit that really needs to be applauded.
17. K Srikanth (Badminton)
Kidambi Srikanth is just 22 years of age, looks waifish and gangly, and stands at a little over 5 feet 7 inches. Initially eclipsed by Parupalli Kashyap, he has morphed into a better player, imbued with style and confidence over the years. The first Indian to win the Swiss Open Grand Prix gold, the Arjuna, if it comes, would surely act as a great boost for the youngster.
It is not every day that the country wakes up chanting the names of sporting heroes who are not willow-wielding knights in mud- covered batting pads. Regardless of whether they win or lose, the above listed 17 will still hold the potential for glory, and remain heroes in our eyes.