Being selected from hundreds of athletes for the Arjuna award is an increasingly difficult honour for the elite athletes of the country. The 18-year-old Jerlin Anika, who won three gold medals in badminton in the Deaflympics got the approval of the selection panel for the award, that will be bestowed on her by the President, Droupadi Murmu, on November 30.
The Madurai girl who has been supported by the HCL Foundation from 2019, and coached by P Saravanan from a young age, aspires to compete along with the regulars, even though her immediate task is to be at her best in the World Deaf Championship in Brazil next year.
Understandably thrilled to be selected for the Arjuna award, Anika said that it would be a big boost for other para athletes to be able to compete with the regulars.
The HCL Foundation facilitated Anika’s travel for international tournaments, providing her sports equipment, nutritional support apart from ensuring her coach Saravanan’s travel with her for tournaments.
“Her performance this year has been stupendous. Not many can win nine international golds in as many months. She will need financial and technical support to prepare for competing with regular players,” Saravanan said.
“We have reached 27,000 students across the country, including 78 para athletes, to help them prepare for competitions. Jerlin is incredibly special to us, and we will continue to support her,” assured Dr. Nidhi Pundhir, vice president and Director of HCL Foundation.
For many, Arjuna award is possibly a culmination of all achievements, but for Anika it will be an inspiration to further excel in the international arena.