P.V. Sindhu was adjudged the Sportstar of the Year and Kapil Dev was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai on Monday. Sindhu, who won a historic badminton World Championship gold in 2019, was also declared the Sportswoman of the Year (Racquet Sports) before an audience of some of the finest Indian sporting stars.
"When she was playing in the final of the World Championships, the streets in India were empty. That was wonderful to see," noted Vijay Amritraj, who hosted a part of the ceremony. Sindhu, who is away in Jakarta for the Indonesia Masters, was represented at the event by her coach P. Gopichand.
"It was a great performance by her at the World Championships. This award will motivate her further during an Olympic year," he said.
Kapil, who led India to World Cup victory in 1983, expressed his happiness through a heartfelt video message. "You feel happy deep down when people recognize your talent," he said. "Every cricketer in our generation used to value The Hindu 's coverage. I also have lots and lots of Sportstar magazines [at home]. My wife has kept cuttings. When you see those pictures, it puts a smile on your face. My message to people in any field of life today is to be passionate in whatever they do. There is no Plan A and B. Plan B never works. Just work hard for Plan A."
Kapil's award was received on his behalf by his first India captain, Bishan Singh Bedi.
Rohit Sharma was chosen the Sportsman of the Year (Cricket) for a hugely successful year, when he finished the top run-scorer at the World Cup while also making a roaring start to life as a Test opener.
"Sportstar magazine was a huge part of my childhood. I remember competing in the Sportstar Trophy during my U-19 days, and collecting Sportstar posters. It was so much fun. This award means a lot. I promise to continue to work even harder," Rohit said in an audio message played to the gathering.
Yuvraj Singh, who accepted the award on Rohit's behalf spoke of his appetite for runs. "It's been a phenomenal year for Rohit. I remember when he came into the side he was a middle-order batsman. He still won a lot of games for India, scored seventies and eighties. Since he started opening, those seventies and eighties have become hundreds and double hundreds. He started to do really well [as an opener] in Test cricket this year, which was good to see. Hopefully he can smash some records in Test cricket like he does in one-day cricket," he said.
Smriti Mandhana emerged the Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket), and was presented the award by Cricket Australia Director and former Australia women's cricketer Mel Jones. "Last year was amazing for us in ODIs and T20s," she said. "This year is exciting with the T20 World Cup coming up."
The jury, which presided over all but two awards, was chaired by Sunil Gavaskar and also comprised N. Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Group, Viswanathan Anand, Aparna Popat, Anjali Bhagwat and M.M. Somaya.
The Chairman's Choice Award went to Australian batsman Steve Smith for his remarkable performance in the Ashes, and was received on his behalf by Cricket Australia chair Earl Eddings. "We're not chauvinistic; we recognize great achievements wherever they are made," said Ram. "We honour him for his batting and his qualitative achievements of skill, courage and character on top of his famous — some would say obsessive — work ethic over the part year.
"Smith came back from the cold from a life-changing and what at that time seemed a calamitous setback. In coming back he showed character by dominating the Ashes in England last year."
N. Murali, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons Ltd., Ayon Sengupta, Editor, Sportstar, and K.C. Vijayakumar, Sports Editor, The Hindu, also addressed the gathering.
The Indian Test team was declared the Team of the Year while Gopichand and R.B. Ramesh shared the Coach of the Year accolade.
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