#MoreSweatMoreGlory was the theme of the event that celebrated the country’s performance at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
NEW DELHI: Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra headed the list of India's iconic sports stars who were among the winners of the Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) that honoured the most influential and celebrated performances from the Indian sportspersons in 2021 at a gala event here on Friday.
The glittering ceremony saw a galaxy of stars coming together to celebrate and honour the top sporting achievements from last year, and those present at the function included hockey stalwarts Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh and Dilip Tirkey, wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat and boxer MC Mary Kom.
Chopra's historic Olympic gold in men's javelin throw at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics in 2021 had no parallel when it came to declaring the 'Sportsperson of the Year', besides being awarded the 'Athlete of the Year' award in men's category. It was the first track and field Olympic medal won by an Indian since independence.
The lifetime achievement award was given to former Indian captain and spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, who played Test cricket for India from 1966 to 1979. He played a total of 67 Tests and took 266 wickets.
For his silver medal at the 2021 World Championships, shuttler Kidambi Srikanth won the TOISA for 'Badminton Player of the Year' among the men, while PV Sindhu's bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics won her another TOISA in the women's category. Sindhu's second Olympic medal made her the first woman from India to stand on the Olympic podium twice.
Speaking at the ceremony, Puneet Gupt, COO, Times Internet said, the year 2021 was special with record medals at Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic. "We coined the theme of #MoreSweatMoreGlory to dedicate a night of celebrating them and their accomplishments,” Gupt said.
The who's who among the TOISA 2021 jury included 1983 cricket World Cup winner Madan Lal, athletics world championships medallist Anju Bobby George, Olympic medal-winning shooter Gagan Narang, India's first men's Olympic boxing medallist Vijender Singh, the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic medal Deepa Malik and former captain of the Indian men's hockey team Sandeep Singh, who is also the current Haryana Sports Minister.
Jasprit Bumrah, the fast-bowling spearhead of the Indian cricket team, was named the 'Cricketer of the Year' in the men's category. Smriti Mandhana, the opening batsmen of the Indian women's cricket team, won the TOISA among the female cricketers nominated for the award.
The two 'Walls' of the Indian hockey teams, goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Savita Punia, were named the 'Hockey Players of the Year' in male and female category respectively. The two played stellar roles in India's Tokyo Olympics campaign, where the men's team returned to the Games podium with a bronze medal, while the Indian women's team registered its best Olympic finish by finishing fourth.
For ending the 41-year wait to see an Indian hockey back on the Olympic podium, captain Manpreet Singh-led men's hockey team was awarded the TOISA for 'Team of the Year'.
Saurabh Chaudhary was named the 'Shooter of the Year'. He was the only shooter among the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics to qualify for the final (men's 10m Air Pistol). Besides that, he also won five medals across ISSF World Cups held in 2021.
The other pairs winning the TOISA for their individual performances in different sports included archers Atanu Das (male) and Jyoti Surekha Vennam, boxers Akash Kumar (male) and Lovlina Borgohain (female), footballers Sunil Chhetri (male) and Manish Kalyan (female), wrestlers Ravi Dahiya (male) and Anshu Malik (female) and weightlifters Achinta Sheuli (male) and Mirabai Chanu (female).
Among the above celebrated names, boxer Lovlina and lifter Mirabai led India's women power at the Tokyo Olympics winning a bronze and a silver medal, respectively. Ravi Dahiya's reputation as the next big thing in Indian wrestling turned into a silver medal at the Olympics.
India's football icon Sunil Chhetri won the TOISA for male footballer of the year hands down -- standing as the third-highest international goal-scorer among active players, which puts him in elite company with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Atanu Das's individual and mixed team gold medals at the 2021 Archery World Cup won him the TOISA among male archers, while Jyothi Surekha Vennam's triple silver medal at the World Archery Championships made her outshine the other nominees in the female category.
The TOISA for the 'Coach of the Year' was jointly given to India's weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma, who has played a key role in turning Mirabai into a world beater at every international stage. Boxing coach Sandhya Gurung, who is credited for Lovlina's rise to an Olympic medalist, shared the award with Sharma.
P V Sindhu being felicitated at TOISA night
Achanta Sharath Kamal bagged the TOISA for 'Table Tennis Player of the Year'. He won two bronze medals at the Asian Championships in the men's team and men's doubles event, besides his fighting run at the Tokyo Olympics, which took him to the third round in the men's individual event.
Teenage chess grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi was named the 'Chess Player of the Year' for his run in 2021, which included winning the Tata Steel Indian Chess Tournament in the Rapid section.
In para-sports, the list was headed by shooter Avani Lekhara who was named the 'Para-Sportsperson of the Year' as well as the 'Para-Shooter of the Year'. Her gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics made her the first woman from India to top the podium at the Games.
Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar were jointly named the 'Para-Badminton Players of the Year' for their individual gold medal-winning feats at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. Para-javelin thrower Sumit Antil, who also won a gold medal at the Tokyo Games, won the TOISA for 'Para-Athlete of the Year'. Bhavinaben Patel was named the 'Para-Table Tennis Player of the Year' for her silver medal in Tokyo.
Here is the full list of award winners for TOISA 2021:
Sportsperson Of The Year: Neeraj Chopra
Team Of The Year: Indian Men's Hockey Team
Coach Of The Year: Vijay Sharma/Sandhya Gurung
Archer Of The Year (Male): Atanu Das
Archer Of The Year (Female): Jyoti Surekha Vennam
Athlete Of The Year (Male): Neeraj Chopra
Athlete Of The Year (Female): Annu Rani
Badminton Player Of The Year (Male): Kidambi Srikanth
Badminton Player Of The Year (Female): Pv Sindhu
Boxer Of The Year (Male): Akash Kumar
Boxer Of The Year (Female): Lovlina Borgohain
Chess Player Of The Year: Arjun Erigaisi
Cricketer Of The Year (Male): Jasprit Bumrah
Cricketer Of The Year (Female): Smriti Mandhana
Footballer Of The Year (Male): Sunil Chhetri
Footballer Of The Year (Female): Manisha Kalyan
Hockey Player Of The Year (Male): Pr Sreejesh
Hockey Player Of The Year (Female): Savita Punia
Shooter Of The Year (Male): Saurabh Chaudhary
Table Tennis Player Of The Year: Achanta Sharath Kamal
Wrestler Of The Year (Male): Ravi Dahiya
Wrestler Of The Year (Female): Anshu Malik
Weightlifter Of The Year (Male): Achinta Sheuli
Weightlifter Of The Year (Female): Mirabai Chanu
Para-Athlete Of The Year (Male): Sumit Antil
Para-Badminton Player Of The Year: Krishna Nagar And Pramod Bhagat
Para-Shooter Of The Year: Avani Lekhara
Para-Table Tennis Player Of The Year: Bhavinaben Patel
Para-Sportsperson Of The Year: Avani Lekhara
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bishan Singh Bedi