Laxman, Rani Laxmi Bai awards given away

The highest state sports awardsó the Laxman/ Rani Laxmi Bai awards for the year 2008-'09 and 2009-'10 were given away on Friday at KD Singh 'Babu' Stadium, Lucknow.

The awards were given away by Sports Minister (UP), Ayodhya Prasad Pal. Those honoured for 2008-09 included Amit Chaudhary (body-building), Vivek Mishra (gymnastics), Ratish Kumar Pandey (handball), Jasmer Singh (kabaddi) and Sukanya Mishra (athletics). Taekwondoist Srishti Singh was honoured for the year 2009-2010. Jasmer could not make it to the venue and his award was received by his brother. Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist Ashish Kumar, his coach and Dronacharya awardee DK Rathore, secretary Sports (UP) Kumar Arvind Singh Dev and a host of other sports department officials also graced the awards ceremony. The awards carry a bronze statue of Laxman/ Rani Laxmi Bai, a scroll and a cash award of Rs 50,000. The Laxman award is given to male athletes while Rani Laxmi Bai award is given to female athletes for excelling at the national/ international level.

'Recognition inspiring'

Players who received the Laxman and Rani Laxmi Bai awards on Friday said that the recognition was a source of inspiration for them. Amit Chaudhary who got the award for excelling in body-building said, " I have won numerous medals at the national level and have also won a silver in the Mr South Asia Championship held at Colombo in 2004 but today with this award I feel that my efforts have been recognised. My next aim will be to do my country proud in the World Championships to be held at Mumbai from November 3 to 7." Gymnast Vivek Mishra who has won medals at the national and the international level said that the award had boosted his morale. He said that though there has been a small pause in his journey in gymnastics due to a spine bone fracture last year but now he has recovered and his next targets would be the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. "My main aim however is to make it the 2016 Olympics and do my nation proud there. I have started practising with those Olympics in mind from now on itself," he said.

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