TNSJA Awards: Vijay Amritraj, V. V. Kumar, Gnanasekaran win lifetime achievement awards

Vijay Amritraj received his award from former hockey Olympic gold medallist V. Baskaran.

(From right) Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming, India's Olympic hockey gold medal-winning captain (Moscow 1980) V. Baskaran, CSK CEO Kashi Vishwanath and CSK batting coach Mike Hussey (extreme left) along with the (second from left) TNSJA Lifetime Achievement Awardees former Indian cricketer V. V.Kumar, former Indian tennis player Vijay Amritraj and former international Athlete R. Gnanasekaran   -  M. Vedhan

The India Cements-sponsored Tamil Nadu Sports Journalists’ Association (TNSJA) annual awards and scholarships function was held here on Saturday.

Legendary Indian tennis player Vijay Amritraj, former India leg-spinner V.V. Kumar and 1978 Asian Games gold medallist (200m) R. Gnanasekaran were felicitated with the lifetime achievement awards, while table tennis ace Sharath Kamal was named the sportsperson of the year for 2018-19. There was also recognition for R. B. Ramesh, who won the coach of the year award having trained many of these prodigious talents in the field of chess.

Among the emerging talent, chess prodigy D. Gukesh and athlete P. M. Thabitha were presented the young achiever awards. Ten up-and-coming sportspersons were also given scholarships of ₹30,000 each.

Vijay Amritraj, who received his award from former hockey Olympic gold medallist V. Baskaran, was at his eloquent best as he reminisced about his illustrious career.

Knowing well that N. Srinivasan, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, India Cements Ltd., had played and excelled in tennis as a youngster, Amritraj also didn't miss an opportunity to display his sharp sense of humour. “I do have a question for Srinivasan which I would like you all to pass on. I’ve heard that at 16, he had a vicious forehand. I don’t quite understand why he went into the wrong sport,” Amritraj said, prompting laughter from the gathering.

“Fortunately for me, he chose another sport so that I could excel in tennis. But what he has done for cricket is nothing short of incredible. What Srinivasan has done is to be able to transform this sport from an Indian and perhaps Commonwealth sport to a world sport that now comfortably ranks among the top five most lucrative sports in the international arena,” he added.

Stephen Fleming, the Chennai Super Kings coach, said: "We (Him and Michael Hussey, the CSK batting coach) get to go to many events and be a part of the Chennai fabric and society, but I must say that today was special to see some absolute legends upcoming talent of all sports."

Main Awardees: India Cements-TNSJA lifetime achievement award 2018-19: Vijay Amritraj; V. V. Kumar; R. Gnanasekaran; Sportsperson of the year: Sharath Kamal; Young achiever award: D. Gukesh; P. M. Thabitha; Team of the year: Tamil Nadu women’s football team; Coach of the year: R. B. Ramesh.

Scholarship winners (₹30,000 each): 1. R. Rajesh (athletics); 2. B. Mathesh (athletics); 3. B. Mariyammal (football); 4. S. Pushpa (basketball); 5. R. Vimal Khumar (cricket); 6. K. N. Ramyashri (cricket); 7. Savitha Shri (chess); 8. D. Vishwa (table tennis); 9. V.S. Varshini (badminton); 10. B. Kundana Sri (tennis).