Fifty two players from Haryana, including Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya, Tokyo Paralympics gold medallist Sumit Antil, Tokyo Paralympics silver medallist Yogesh Kathuniya, Tokyo Paralympics silver and bronze medallist Singhraj Adhana, and Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist Archer Harvinder Singh, among others, were on Thursday honoured with the Bhim award — the state’s highest sporting honour.
The awards ceremony in Panchkula on Thursday was presided over by Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya. Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, Neeraj Chopra, was, however, missing from the awards ceremony, as he was competing in Europe. Chopra’s family received the award on his behalf. The awardees were given Rs 5 lakh in cash along with a citation and miniature statue of Bhim. The awardees will also be given a monthly honorarium of Rs 5,000 by the Harayan government.
“All these players have made the state proud with their achievements. Haryana has led the country in terms of winning medals at the national and international level. The state claimed the overall championship trophy in the recently held Khelo India Youth Games with 137 medals. Haryana has also set an example in the country by offering government jobs in group A, B, C and D to 190 sportspersons. I hope these players continue doing our country proud in the future and wish them well,” said Governor Dattatreya.
The awards were given for achievements in the last four years, and while some players could not attend the function, Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya, along with Tokyo Paralympics gold medallist Sumit Antil were the toasts of the event. While ten players were given the award for achievements in 2017-2018, 11 players were given the award for the year 2018-2019.
Eleven players, including Neeraj Chopra, were given the award for 2019-2020, while 11 players — including Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia — were given the award for the year 2020-2021. Eight players, including Ravi Dhahiya, were given the award for medals won in Olympics and Paralympics. Paraathlete Nirmala Devi was given the award for the year 2014-2015.
“As a child, we would read about players getting the Bhim award or Arjuna award and we would always see it as a huge honour. To get 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 with The Indian Express, on Thursday.
Some players also urged the Haryana government to organise the award function every year. “Getting Haryana’s highest sporting award is a big honour for us. To get the award means a lot to all the players. When a player gets such an award, the whole family and village feels proud and this motivates them a lot. The award should be handed over annually. The cash award of Rs 5 lakh is of great help for a player’s training needs,” said Karamjyoti Dalal, World Para Championship bronze medallist.
Haryana sports minister Sandeep Singh, on his part, said that complete transparency is being maintained in choosing players for such awards.