India in Parasport Yearender 2020: Manasi Joshi's resurgence, PCI suspension revocation, Sports Awards high points
2020 was supposed to be an action-filled year in sports with all eyes on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, Covid-19 Pandemic brought all action to a grinding halt with events either being postponed or cancelled.
The Parasport action was affected too. In that scenario, the achievements of a few Para athletes and the revocation of the suspension of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) remain the high points in Indian Parasports this year.
Among them, Para shuttler Manasi Jos hi’s resurgence stood out this year. Joshi continued to inspire her fellow para sportspersons with her extraordinary achievements one after the other. In a huge shot in her arm, the reigning world champion became the first ever Para athlete to feature in TIME magazine’s 2020 list of Next Generation Leader.
The occasion soon turned into a double delight with the star shuttler getting a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll modelled to her likeness on the occasion of International Day of Girl Child.
Days later, she also found herself in the list of BBC’s 100 Women of 2020. The list from BBC includes those women who are leading the world and trying to make a change during these uncertain times.
Said Joshi on her accomplishments: “I am glad I got a voice because of my sport. I have been fortunate enough to use this voice to raise awareness about prosthetics, road safety, disability and inclusion.
“I hope that I keep inspiring the upcoming generation with my achievements. To be the first Para athlete to be recognised in this list as an advocate of rights for persons with disability in India feels like a great achievement. I am glad to be able to contribute to the Paralympic movement in India through my sport and the voice it is providing me.”
Sports Awards to Nine names from Para Sport fraternity
Meanwhile, in yet another boost to the Paralympic Movement in India, an unprecedented nine names from the Indian para sports fraternity, including four prominent Para athletes, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Sandeep Chaudhary, Manish Narwal and Suyash Jadhav, were conferred with the National Sports Awards this year.
While Mariyappan, named among the five named winners this year, is only the third Indian Para-athlete to be awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award after former Paralympic medallists Devendra Jhajharia and Deepa Malik (both Para Athletics); Chaudhary (Para Athletics), Narwal (Shooting Para sport) and Jadhav (Para Swimming) have made it to the list of 27 Arjuna Awardees announced by the Sports Ministry.
PCI wins Best National Federation Award
While the athletes were recognised for bringing laurels to the country, PCI also made it to the headlines winning the 'Best National Sports Federation Award' at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s (FICCI) Turf 2020 India Sports Awards.
There was more recognition for the Parasport fraternity as World champion Para javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar and sprinter Simran Sharma were named as the Best Male and Female Para Athlete of the Year.
Honoured to receive the award Dr. Deepa Malik, PCI President, said: “The award has come at the right time when we plan to make PCI an athlete-centric organisation and work towards the overall development of the Para athletes and the Movement in the country. The award will also motivate us to move forward in our plans and push our athletes and coaches to work harder towards their Paralympic dreams,” she added.
PCI Secretary-General Gursharan Singh added: “The award is a testament that we are on the right path and we continue to work with the same commitment and dedication towards the development of the Paralympic Movement in the country.”
Eight more Para athletes in TOPS
In a boost to their preparations for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, eight para-athletes from four different disciplines -- Para Athletics, Para Badminton, Para Shooting and Para Table Tennis -- were included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), a flagship programme of the Sports ministry.
The athletes are: Vinod Kumar, Praveen Kumar and Ajit Kumar Panchal (Para Athletics); Parul Parmar and Palak Kohli (Para Badminton); Rubina Francis and Siddharth Babu (Para Shooting); Bhavina Patel (Para Table Tennis).
With the new addition, the total number of para athletes currently under TOPS is 34.
PCI partners with SIDBI
Meanwhile, support came in for the Paralympic Movement in the country with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) joining hands with PCI to support para-athletes with equipment worth around Rs. 15 lakhs.
Over the years, Hero MotoCorp has been the biggest partner supporting the Paralympic Movement in the country since 2016, while others like Cairn Foundation (2016) and Citi (2018) have also come on board to support the cause.
Para Sports Online Development Programme
Earlier, to spread positivity and awareness during the lockdown period, the PCI has organised a 16-day Para Sports Online Development Programme (Technical and Sports Science) focusing on basic fundamentals, technical and scientific aspects of various disciplines of parasports.
The webinar was aimed at creating awareness about Para sports in the country with over 300 participants taking part in each of the sessions.
This was followed by PCI President Dr. Malik meeting virtually with Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) President Mr. Majid Rashed who assessed the current situation in the country owing to COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, athletes also took part in virtual competitions.
Some of the country's top Para athletes including double Paralympic Gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia, two-time world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar, world no. 1 Para-Badminton player Parul Parmar and seven other para athletes participated in the 5th edition of the Cairn Pink City Half Marathon held virtually between December 13-20, 2020.
In other sports, a three-member Air Rifle shooting team -- Indian Tigers -- took part in the Online Shooting League held from July 4-26, 2020.
Medallists at National Shooting Championships, Krishan Kumar, Jyoti Sannakki and shooter Ishank Ahuja comprised the Indian team.
Further, a first of its kind National Centre for Excellence for Paralympic Sports by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) - the National Centre for Divyang Empowerment (NCDE) – was inaugurated in Hyderabad to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).
The NCDE, which will be developed into a centre to help re-skill the proud warriors & re-emerge as warriors in their new domains., will be in line with the Army Sports Institute and Para Node at BEG & Centre, Pune.
Valuable contribution in the fight against Covid-19
There was more proud moment for the Paralympic fraternity as two of its para-athletes -- ace Para high jumper Sharad Kumar and Para Badminton star Pramod Bhagat—were among the 40 eminent sports persons from the country to be part of a Video Conference discussion with Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi on combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bhagat and Sharad also contributed to the PM and CM Relief Funds to help the Indian government’s fight against Covid-19.
The PCI staff, too, had donated their one-day salary to the PM Relief Fund, while PCI Chief Patron Avinash Rai Khanna had donated his one-month pension to the Relief Fund.
For their contribution, PCI was recognized with the 'Corona Frontliners Award' for their service rendered during the COVID19 crisis lockdown.
However, the Parasport fraternity lost one of its veteran members when Arjuna Awardee and former Para-Badminton player Shri Ramesh Tikaram passed away battling Covid-19.
Tikaram, who also served as a coach, played an important role in the development of Para-Badminton in India.
The year summed up with yet another good news for PCI as the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports revoked the suspension of the para sports body with an immediate effect.
In a letter addressed to PCI, SPS Tomar, Deputy Secretary to the Government of India, also said that the election result of PCI declared by the Returning Officer on January 31 has been accepted by the Ministry. This means Deepa Malik (President), Gursharan Singh (Secretary-General) and M. Mahadeva (Treasurer), who were declared elected as office bearers, were being accepted.
The recognition of PCI has been renewed for one year from the date of issue of the letter dated Dec. 16, 2020, subject to orders to be passed by the Delhi High Court and High Court of Karnataka or any other Court in the pending matters.
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