National Sports Awards 2020 a massive boost for Indian badminton

For the first time in history, badminton has bagged six awards in the National Awards including the Dhyanchand Award for former national coach Pradeep Gandhe.

The duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (in picture) were honoured with the Arjuna Awards for their contributions to Indian badminton.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Next to cricketers, shuttlers from India have been hogging the limelight in the last decade or so which is evident by a cursory look at the National Sports Awards 2020.

For the first time in history, badminton has bagged six awards in the National Awards.

That some of the old-timers like Pradeep Gandhe, two-time bronze medallist in the 1982 Asian Games and former India coach, was among winners of the Dhyanchand Award for lifetime achievement (among those who recommended his name include the legendary Prakash Padukone, world champion P.V. Sindhu, chief national coach P. Gopi Chand), was also a gentle reminder that those who have stopped playing the sport long back still stay connected with it for he holds a position in the Badminton Association of India.

In fact, Gandhe was a contemporary of Padukone and Syed Modi when they dominated Indian badminton scene.

So is the recognition of Trupti Murugunde, two-time South Asian gold medallist known for her tactical brilliance, and Satyaprakash Tiwari (para) for their contribution to the sport.

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Quite aptly, para badminton team’s head coach Gaurav Khanna was also awarded the Dronacharya Award for his contribution in shaping the destiny of the para shuttlers who won gold in the World Championships.

“This is a very important moment for Indian badminton. We have received Dhyanchand Award for the first time and on behalf of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and President Himanta Biswa Sarma, I would like to congratulate all the winners. This recognition will keep inspiring us and will motivate us to work harder in the future. We also congratulate coach Khanna for his impressive work with the para badminton team,” BAI Secretary Ajay Singhania said.

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Not far away were the latest sensations in Indian badminton - the doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and R. Satwiksairaj, who are ranked World No.10. The duo was honoured with the Arjuna Award for its exploits on the world scene including the prestigious triumph in the 2019 Thai Super 500 Series championship and also finishing runner-up in last year’s French Open.

“The way youngsters like Chirag and Satwik have been performing, they deserve all the applause. I am sure Indian badminton will continue to achieve greater heights and our shuttlers will keep performing well at the international circuit and bring medals for the nation,” says Singhania.

Even former World No.1 Kidambi Srikanth was nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, former SAI coach P.U. Bhaskar Babu for the Dronacharya Award. It is a different issue that they were not so lucky this time around!

So, when the National Sports Awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on August 29, the badminton fraternity has every reason to feel proud and look ahead with a lot of optimism for even better performances from the players in 2021, after the pandemic disrupted the 2020 BWF calendar.

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