Rani Rampaul
Rani RampaulHockey India (File photo)

BBC shortlists five sportspersons for Indian Sportswoman of the Year award

New Delhi, February 8, 2021

Five sportspersons -- chess player Koneru Humpy, shooter Manu Bhaker, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, hockey striker Rani Rampaul and athlete Dutee Chand -- on Monday were shortlisted for this year’s BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year (ISWOTY) award.

Announcing the names in a virtual press conference in Delhi this afternoon, Rupa Jha, Head of BBC Indian language services, said that these nominees were compiled by a jury of eminent sports journalists, experts and BBC editors.

"I look forward to seeing people participate around the world in deciding this year’s ISWOTY winner, by voting for the best female sports star who has been a gamechanger during these uncertain times.’’ she said

Voting is now open and the public can vote for their favourite Indian Sportswoman of the Year on BBC Indian Language service platforms and on the BBC Sport website.

Giving her reaction on being shortlisted for the award, Chand said, “I am happy to get another chance of being nominated for the BBC award again this year.

"It's great to see that now there is an increased awareness about sports amongst people in India. So many players are making a name for themselves, earning money and making their country proud,” she added.

Phogat's reaction was both amusing and interesting. “Looking down upon wrestling, people in my village used to question, ‘what are you making the girls do’?.

"But now when a girl is born, they say it's not a problem, we will make her a wrestler and they do it in reality. Through our medals, we have brought this change and if we are able to bring a difference in the life of girls, it’s no less than a medal for me.”

Women's hockey team skipper Rani Rampaul opined: “It’s very encouraging to see that women athletes are being recognised for their achievements. I request all women to take up at least one game as it will help in your physical and mental well-being.”

Young shooter Manu Bhaker was happy at being shortlisted: “It definitely means a lot to me because this appreciation is coming from my own people. People appreciate my performance and recognize my hard work, which matters to me a lot. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.”

Koneru Humpy viewed it philosophically. “More than winning the award, getting nominated is a success for me. I think in sports it’s more important to compete rather than think about winning or losing, that too, in this pandemic.

"BBC ISWOTY will give us the opportunity to be joyful and celebrate with other sportspersons and people worldwide,” she added.

Indu Shekhar Sinha, Head of BBC Business Development, Asia Pacific concluded, saying: “I am delighted we are all set to celebrate the second year of this prestigious award and through the ‘Sports Hackathon’ and Indian Changemaker series we aim to enhance the online presence of talented and emerging women in sport.’’


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