Hockey India Ignores Players From Odisha For Arjuna Award

Bhubaneswar: Only nine sportspersons of Odisha have reveived the Arjuna Award, which was the highest sporting honour of the country till institution of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991.

Though the state has some great sporting talents who have brought medals at international events, question remains if any sportsperson of the state will bag the coveted Arjuna Award for 2021?

While the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has received the names of sportspersons from several disciplines nominated by the states for the Arjuna Award, Odisha has the possibility to receive the award in hockey.

However, Hockey India has nominated Harmanpreet Singh, Vandana Katariya and Navjot Kaur for the Arjuna Award by ignoring the two senior-most players Birendra Lakra and Deep Grace Ekka from Odisha.

With regard to seniority, Birendra has played 197 matches while Harmanpreet has played 119 matches. Similarly, Deep Grace,  who has been representing Indian women’s team since 2011,  has played 202 matches while Novjot has played 172 matches.

Considering the overall performances of these two players from Odisha, Hockey India should come up with a clarification as to why it did not nominate them for the Arjuna Award, feel hockey lovers here.

Going by the provisions, besides state governments and sports associations, any citizen or a sportsperson can send nominations for the Arjuna Award.

Usually the selection committee constituted of the ministry has been actively considering recommendations made by the national sports federations since institution of this award in 1961. The Odisha government, on its part, has recommended Birendra Lakra for the award.

The nine players from Odisha who received the Arjuna Award are:

Minati Mohapatra (1980) in Cycling

Bijay Kumar Satpathy (1981) Weighlifting

Rachita Panda nee Mistry (1998) Athletics (field and track)

Dilip Tirkey (2002) Hockey

Jyoti Sunita Kullu (2007) Hockey

Ignace Tirkey (2009) Hockey

K Ravi Kumar (2011) Weightlifting

Pramod Bhagat (2019) Para-Badminton

Dutee Chand (2020) Athletics (field and track)

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