New Delhi:29/3/22:Tokyo Olympics silver medallist weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu has won the BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year (ISWOTY) award.
Another weightlifter and winner of the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics Karnam Malleswari received the BBC lifetime achievement award while young cricketer Shafali Verma was named BBC’s emerging player.
These awards were announced at a glittering function held here last night which was attended among others by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chauthala, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra, former Haryana Chief Minister B S Hooda, TMC member of parliament Mohua Mitra and several Olympians, sports officials and other prominent media and culture personalities.
Chanu became the first Indian weightlifter to clinch a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Though she was not present to receive the award herself, in a recorded message she thanked the BBC and said, “I am currently training in the United States of America. I will give my best to win gold at this year’s Asian and Commonwealth Games. Thanks again to BBC India for honouring me with the BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year award.”
BBC’s Director General Tim Davie, who hosted the awards ceremony hailed Chanu and described her as “a fantastic sportswoman and a deserving winner of the award. It’s wonderful to be here in Delhi in the BBC’s centenary year, and to honour the talented Indian sportswomen who’ve achieved so much, often in the face of challenging circumstances.”
The “BBC Emerging Player” award was presented to Shafali Verma, the youngest female cricketer who played for India in Women’s Twenty20 International match in 2019, in absentia as she is with the team for the World Cup.
In her virtual message, she thanked the BBC for the award and said, “I hope to continue playing in the team for the next twenty to twenty-five years. My aim would be to make the Indian team win as much as possible.”
The first Indian woman to have won a medal at the Olympics in 2000, Karnam Malleswari was presented the BBC Lifetime Achievement award. “After all the medals have been won, this award gives me a lot of motivation to work even harder. I am very thankful to the BBC that it is honouring not only the current players but players like us as well,” she said.
In this edition of BBC ISWOTY, Olympians and the Paralympians from the Tokyo Games were also honoured including the women’s and men’s hockey teams.
Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of Odisha, which sponsors both the hockey teams, congratulated the players, along with International Hockey Federation President Narinder Batra.
Several other sports personalities also congratulated the winners and nominees of BBC ISWOTY.
Neeraj Chopra, the reigning Tokyo Olympic champion in javelin throw, congratulated the winners and all the nominees, “Whether it is Olympics or Paralympics, our women have always made the country feel proud. I would like to thank the BBC for organising the sportswomen’s awards.”
Jos Butler, English cricketer also sent a congratulatory message to the nominees, “I have seen some great performances from Indian sportswomen in cricket and other sports. Women’s cricket has progressed a lot in India and Shafali has the opportunity to be a role model for the next generation. BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year award is a great way of honouring female players.”