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New Delhi, March 8, 2020
World champion P V Sindhu added one more feather in her cap on Sunday as she won the BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year (IWOTY)) 2019 award while the Lifetime Achievement Award went to veteran athlete P T Usha for her contribution to Indian sport and for inspiring generations of players.
The winner of ISWOTY was voted for by fans all over the world, picked out of five contestants nominated by an eminent jury. The five nominations announced in February were sprinter Dutee Chand, boxer Mary Kom, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, para badminton player Manasi Joshi and Sindhu.
Sindhu has a total of five World Championship medals to her name. She is also the first Indian singles badminton player to win an Olympic silver medal. Sindhu entered the top 20 of the BWF World rankings in September 2012 at the age of just 17. She has remained in the top 10 throughout the last four years. With her ace smashes and dynamic play, Indian fans have high hopes from her at the Tokyo Olympics.
After the win, the 24 year old badminton player who is in London to take part in the All England Championship said via video link “I want to thank BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year team. I am really happy to have this award. I would also like to thank BBC India for such a great initiative and all my fans out there."
“I would like to dedicate this award to my supporters and fans that have supported me all along and also voted for me. Awards like BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year give us motivation and encouragement to go much further. My message to all young sportswomen is that as women we have to believe in ourselves. Hard work is the key to success. I’m sure soon there will be more Indian sportswomen winning medals for the country,” she added.
Overcoming great odds, P T Usha won over 100 international medals and awards throughout her career. The Indian Olympics Association also named her the Best Sportswoman of the Century. She narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal at the 1984 Los Angeles games finishing fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles, losing the bronze medal by one-hundredth of a second.
‘’We did not have any facilities when I started my career. I used to train alongside railway tracks and on beaches as there were no training spaces then,’’said Usha after receiving the award.
‘’Things have changed a lot since then and I am very happy that BBC has taken this initiative, it will motivate the new generation to come into sports," she said.
Sports Minister Kiran Rijiju who was the guest of honour expressed his delight. ‘’I am very excited that BBC has organised this award. Achievement must be celebrated and awards are a way to recognise this. India has not been able to build a sporting culture. We are going to change that. We want to make India a sports powerhouse. We must build sports as a career and make sure our athletes are well taken care of. That is why we have introduced schemes like lifetime pensions for sportspersons who have won medals for India.’’
BBC Director General Tony Hall hosted the awards ceremony. He said: “Huge congratulations to P V Sindhu for winning the BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year 2019. This award has been voted for by fans across the globe, and gives us an opportunity to celebrate female athletes from across India. It also reflects the BBC’s commitment to its ever-growing Indian audience. I wish Sindhu the best of luck and will be watching more brilliant achievements of hers over the next year.”
The award ceremony was held in Delhi in the presence of eminent sports personalities, sports writers, journalists and dignitaries.