Former India coach, Anil Kumble, has been presented with the “Coach of the Year” award at the Annual Sports Writers’ Association of Bangalore (SWAB) awards. While Sunil Chhetri bagged the male sportsman of the year, golfer Aditi Ashok won the same award in the female category.
There is something special about the relationship between Bangalore and sports journalism. The city has been the hub of many online portals and newspapers, but most importantly, Bangalore journalists have carved a distinct niche for themselves through unbiased reporting that has been praised by many, all over the country. And keeping with the rich tradition, Sports Writers’ Association of Bangalore (SWAB) hosted the annual awards at Hotel Taj Vivanta in Bengaluru on Saturday, to celebrate the contribution of sportsmen across the discipline.
India national football team and Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri and Aditi Ashok, India’s highest-ranked woman golfer, walked away with the sportspersons of the year award, in the male and female categories respectively. While Federation Cup champions, Bengaluru FC were awarded the ‘Team of the Year’ award, Indian women's hockey team coach Harendra Singh presented the ‘Coach of the Year’ award to Kumble, under whom India won five successive Test series between July 2016 and March 2017.
The legendary spinner has been all praise for the journalist fraternity of Bangalore and Karnataka, as a whole, stating that the latter plays a big role in shaping and taking an athlete’s career forward.
“Congratulations to all the winners. SWAB has continued to recognize and encourage talent here in Karnataka. Without their support – I was one of the award winners very early in my cricketing career, and that certainly helped me to move onwards. Also, the recognition that you receive from sports writers because they see you grow from an early age… I remember journalists who are sitting here, watching me from my school cricket right up to retirement and also the other roles I have taken up after that. It’s wonderful what SWAB has been doing and I hope you continue to do that,” Kumble said after receiving the award.
“The other thing I’ve been proud of, which the majority of sports writers who are all sitting here do, is that in this day and age when the narratives are generally through hearsay, ‘sources’ and sometimes speculation – they still do a job without fear or favor. And they do a fantastic job on that. Congratulations to all of you.”
In a brilliantly-crafted elegant speech, Abhinav Bindra, India's only individual Olympic Gold medalist, said, "Bangalore holds a very special place in my heart. It is in this city that I spent many days of my youth shooting at the SAI Centre and the people of this city, not least its sports journalists, have always been wonderfully welcoming. There is something in the air of Bangalore that makes it special for sports, and I am not just saying that because I have just flown here from Delhi."
The standing ovation was, however, reserved for MP Ganesh, the former Olympian, who was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ganesh, despite being in his seventies, was eloquent while narrating the tales of his formative years as a hockey player, the lessons he implemented from his playing days to his career in sports administration, and the need for government officials, journalists, and former athletes to come together to nurture promising sporting talent.
Arjun Maini and Damini Gowda won the Junior Sportsperson of the year award in the male and female category respectively. Maini, the former SWAB award winner, created history by becoming the first Indian driver to win a GP3 race when he claimed the sprint race in Barcelona, in May. The 19-year-old was also signed by Haas Formula One team as a development driver.
Damini, meanwhile, won five golds in the Junior National Aquatic championships in July 2016 and backed that stellar show with two golds and three bronze medals in the Senior championship a few months later. She was a force to reckon with in the National School Games Championship too, winning two golds and a silver.
K Sriram, a member of KSCA’s media staff, was recognized as the ‘Behind the Scenes’ award winner while Karnataka Badminton Association walked away with the ‘Association of the Year’ award.
List of award winners:
Best sportsperson of the year (Male): Sunil Chhetri
Best sportsperson of the year (female): Aditi Ashok
Team of the year: Bengaluru FC
Coach of the year: Anil Kumble
Lifetime Achievement Award: MP Ganesh
Best junior sportsperson of the year (male): Arjun Maini
Best junior sportsperson of the year (female): Damini Gowda
Association of the year: Karnataka Badminton Association
Behind the scenes award: K Sriram
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