National sports awardees pay tribute to fallen heroes
National sports awardees at the National War Memorial

Guwahati: Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold medallists Nayan Moni Saikia of Assam and Telangana pugilist Nikhat Zareen on Tuesday joined the other awardees of this year’s National Sports Awards, in paying tributes to the fallen heroes of the Indian armed forces.

The awardees’ list also comprising the likes of shuttlers Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, steeplechaser Avinash Sable, chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa, former shooter Soma Shirur, among others, visited the National War Memorial early on Tuesday to pay homage to the martyrs.

During their visit, the awardees took a tour of the Veerta Chakra (circle of bravery) where they saw the six bronze murals depicting various historical wars that the country has faced post-independence.

Veteran table tennis star Achanta Sharath Kamal will be awarded the prestigious Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award. Kamal, 40, is the second paddler to be awarded the highest sporting honour after Manika Batra bagged it in 2020.

An ageless warrior, Kamal returned with three golds and one silver medal from the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. In 2018, he won a bronze medal in the mixed team event with Manika at the 2018 Asian Games.

Asian Games gold medallist boxer Amit Panghal and veteran discus thrower Seema Punia, both of whom were previously reprimanded for dope-related offences, early in their career, will also be awarded the Arjuna this year.

Besides lawn bowls player Nayan Moni Saikia, Manipur judoka Sushila Devi Likmabam is the only other athlete from the North East to feature in the list of awardees this year.

Over 40 awards, including one Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna, 25 Arjuna, and seven Dronacharya awards will be conferred on Wednesday during the National Sports Awards ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Khel Ratna award comprises a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh, while the Arjuna award comprises a bronze statuette of Arjuna, a certificate and a cash award of Rs 15 lakh. The Dronacharya award comprises a bronze statuette of Dronacharya, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh for lifetime achievement and Rs 10 lakh for Regular. The Dhyan Chand award for lifetime achievement carries a statuette, a certificate and a cash award of Rs 10 lakh.

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