“As cricketers we don’t get much awards but it always feels special when you get nominated or you get an award,” said cricket all-rounder Hardik Pandya while the Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri said he looked forward to meeting other sports personalities during the first edition of the Indian Sports Honours (ISH).
The initiative of honouring sportspersons from various fields was launched by Virat Kohli and Sanjiv Goenka’s RPSG recently, and the awards function was held on Saturday evening with personalities from various fields coming together.
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Sania Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Prannoy Kumar, Pullela Gopichand, Sania Mirza, Mahesh Bhupathi, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin were among the sports stars present.
Also in attendance were Bollywood stars Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Siddharth Malhotra, Malaika Arora Khan and a few more, besides the host, Virat Kohli.
Looking back at successful year
Kohli was right in his assessment that “the days of being a one-sport country are behind us”. From badminton to football to tennis, a string of Indian sportspersons had a lot to share.
“Definitely it’s been a fantastic year for me so far,” said shuttler Srikanth, the Arjuna Award winner who has won four Super Series titles in 2017.
Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma attended the inaugural Indian Sports Honours in Mumbai. (Kunal Patil/HT Photo)
“It’s been a great year. To have the rankings (that) we have it is great. Srikanth has been fantastic. Only his performance could overshadow somebody like Prannoy’s, who also has been fantastic,” said national coach, P Gopichand.
Prannoy said the success of players is rubbing off on each other. “With all these guys performing well… that has been a great motivation for the entire batch. Saina, Sindhu are doing well, so it’s a great team effort,” he said.
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“We have four good singles guys now, Prajnesh, Sumit, good times,” said India’s Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi. He backed Yuki Bhambri to bounce back from injury and claimed the next two years will be critical for Ramkumar Ramanathan.
Sania said it was tough to pick one woman sportsperson of the year. “We have had so many great women achievers in the last one year or so,” she said. “It is tough to say.”
“Need to build on it”
Chhetri recalled the success of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and said India needs to build on it. “The kind of popularity, the interest that has been generated by the World Cup has been massive; I hope we build on it.”
VIrat Kohli (L) and Anushka Sharma were one of the biggest star attractions. (Kunal Patil/HT Photo)
“The best part was team unity”, said the senior player on the U-17 boys’ team who made the country proud. “Eat something and be a little bigger,” was his message to the younger players.
“We hope to continue that in the next year,” said India women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj. “It is going to be a busy season, we start with South Africa tour in January end,” added the top women’s cricketer, whose team was runners-up in the last World Cup.
Kohli may have exempted himself from being in contention for any of the awards, but the Indian captain was the cynosure of all eyes when he walked hand-in-hand with Anushka Sharma.