Rohan Bopanna receives IOC's Icon of the Year award

The doubles specialist and mixed doubles winner at Roland Garros in 2017, flew down from Paris to be part of an elite gathering of around 60 sportspersons to receive the coveted award from Indian Oil.

(From left), Rohan Bopanna, P. Gopi Chand, Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal and P. Kashyap during an IOC event in New Delhi on Thursday evening.   -  Special Arrangement

Rohan Bopanna’s disappointment in losing the French Open men doubles quarterfinals stood largely negated by the joy of receiving the “Sports Icon of Year” award at the conclusion of the “Sports Conclave”, here, on Thursday.

The doubles specialist and mixed doubles winner at Roland Garros in 2017, flew down from Paris to be part of an elite gathering of around 60 sportspersons to receive the coveted award from Indian Oil, his employers.

“I look at the positives. Had I won (in the company of his French partner E. Roger-Vasselin), I would not have been able to attend this gathering and receive the award in person,” said the 38-year old.

READ: Indian Oil Corporation set to recruit more sportspersons

Bopanna was cheered by, among others, table tennis stars Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, badminton coach P. Gopi Chand, shuttlers P. Kashyap, N. Sikki Reddy, a number of Grandmasters, players from hockey, carrom, cue sports and others.

The prominent absentees were cricketers Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Speaking on the occasion, Sharath and Gopi took turns to acknowledge the role of IOC in their careers and the opportunity provided through the conclave to interact with fellow champions.

ALSO READ: Ministry doubles pension amount for international medallists

Sharath, a popular figure for his friendly demeanour, said that he owed his longevity in table tennis for the support extended by his employers. “My commitments to play for clubs in Europe in the past several years were considered favourably my IOC and that’s the reason why I could keep playing at this level for this long.”

This multiple medal-winner over four Commonwealth Games and eight-time National champion enthusiastically cheered all those honoured through the day. He described the joy of interacting with other leading sportspersons from other disciplines as one of the biggest takeaways from such a gathering.

Gopi urged those in authority to make full use of the expertise and experience of ex-sportspersons on the rolls of Indian Oil as coaches. The 2001 All England champion recalled how the company stood by him after he seriously injured his knee within a year of joining (in 1994).