‘My dreams got fulfilled’

Manoj Sarkar was named the Parathlete Sportsman of the Year at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

Manoj Sarkar, currently ranked world No. 3, secured two bronze medals at the Para Asian Games in 2018.   -  Emmanual Yogini

"Awards are rewards for your hard work. I can say the Sportstar Aces award is my best so far,” Manoj Sarkar, who was named the Parathlete Sportsman of the Year at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF, said.

“I had told a lot of people when I won the Arjuna Award (in 2018) that I didn’t really feel happy about it. As a player, I had to suffer a lot to get recognition. I had the maximum points the previous year. I am thankful for the government to give the award, but my father was not there to see it this time.

“I had to work hard to get the previous awards. I needed recommendations, fill out forms and apply to seek recognition. It felt like I was not a player but an official, running from office to office. This award came without enquiry; this award was unexpected. I was happy to know that there are people who are noticing my performance and career. I don’t know if I am deserving of it or not, but it felt like my hard work was finally rewarded. I am thankful for that. For the first time, I felt like a sportsman and all I had to do was perform,” the para-badminton player (SL3 category), who suffers from a lower-limb deformity, said.

The GoSports Foundation-supported athlete revealed his epiphany moment: “When we were in Ireland for an event, we were taken to a great hotel and good money was spent on us in a fancy restaurant. In India, we couldn’t even go and eat in big hotels or restaurants, and in Ireland we were doing it. So I had told them then that we will go to the Taj hotel someday. The moment I reached my room at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel (the venue for the Sportstar awards ceremony), I made a video call to my sister and told her one of my dreams got fulfilled. I showed the room around and said I am at Taj hotel. I thank Sportstar for fulfilling this dream as well.”

Sarkar, currently ranked world No. 3, secured two bronze medals at the Para Asian Games in 2018. A two-time world champion, the shuttler has collected 18 gold medals at national-level competitions to go with 10 international titles.

The 29-year-old is looking forward to defend his Turkish and Dubai international championships in March to launch his season.