Chhetri, Aditi SWAB sportspersons of the year

Sunil Chhetri and Aditi Ashok bagged top honours at the ACT Fibernet-SWAB awards in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Before a star-studded gathering that included chief guest Abhinav Bindra and sporting luminaries from the city, former India hockey captain M.P. Ganesh was presented the 'Lifetime Achievement' award.   -  SUDHAKAR JAIN

Sunil Chhetri and Aditi Ashok bagged top honours at the ACT Fibernet-SWAB awards here on Saturday. The pair claimed the 'Best Sportsperson of the Year' awards in the senior category while Anil Kumble was declared the 'Coach of the Year'.

Before a star-studded gathering that included chief guest Abhinav Bindra and sporting luminaries from the city, former India hockey captain M.P. Ganesh was presented the 'Lifetime Achievement' award.

Bengaluru FC was adjudged the 'Team of the Year' while racing driver Arjun Maini and swimmer Damini K. Gowda emerged the 'Best Sportspersons of the Year' in the junior section.

"Bangalore holds a very special place in my heart," said Bindra, in an eloquent address laced with humour. “I spent many days of my youth shooting at the SAI South Centre here. There is something in the air of Bangalore that makes it special for sports, and I am not saying that because I have just flown here from Delhi."

Chhetri, whose exploits for the Indian National team and BFC saw him edge out the likes of K.L. Rahul, Rohan Bopanna, and Pankaj Advani for the top prize, said: "When I started off, I was scared of journalists. Over time, I recognized the role they played and built a relationship with them.”

Ganesh, who won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games, spoke of his playing career and his transition into administration. The 72-year-old felt government officials, journalists and former athletes needed to join hands to nurture sporting talent.

Harendra Singh, coach of the Indian women's hockey team, presented the ‘Coach of the Year’ award to Kumble, under whom India won five successive Test series between July 2016 and March 2017.

Kumble was modest in his acceptance of the award.

“I think coaches in cricket don’t have too much to say or too much to do. But nonetheless, this is an excellent recognition of all the good work that the team did over the past one year and they have continued with their winning ways,” he said.

“I’m confident that the team which we have will certainly go on to create history in South Africa and then beyond. The team under Virat certainly has the capabilities to achieve that.”

K. Sriram, a member of the KSCA’s media staff, was presented with the ‘Behind the Scenes’ award while the Karnataka Badminton Association was declared the ‘Association of the Year’.