Midfielder Hardik Singh and goalkeeper Savita Punia were on Friday conferred with the men's and women's Indian 'Hockey Player of the Year' awards at a glittering ceremony in New Delhi. (More Hockey News)
The 24-year-old Hardik beat his illustrious senior players like Manpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh to win the coveted award for 2022 named after hockey legend Balbir Singh senior at the fifth Hockey India Annual Awards.
Hardik was the most impressive player for India in the FIH World Cup held in Odisha in January before he was ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the second group match against England.
He had scored a goal in India's 2-0 win over Spain in the first match. India had made a shock exit from the World after losing to Spain in the pre-quarterfinals.
Savita had led India to the FIH Women's Nation's Cup title in December last year to book a berth in the Women's Pro League.
Both Hardik and Savita received Rs 25 lakh each, along with a trophy. The total prize money for the wards was in excess of Rs 2.7 crore.
"It's been a fantastic year, and it feels great to be recognised for my efforts," Hardik said.
"I believe we had a roller coaster year as a team, and there are players who have done exceptionally well this year as well. I honestly feel that I am accepting this honour on behalf of the entire team."
"To be honest, I am speechless; this is a tremendous honour. We performed admirably as a team, and winning the inaugural FIH Women's Nations Cup was a watershed moment for all of us," Savita said.
Hockey India also gave away awards for 2021 as it could not be held due to post-COVID-19 difficulties.
Member of the 1964 Olympics gold-winning team, Gurbux Singh won the prestigious Hockey India Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022 for his outstanding contribution to the sport of hockey.
The award carries Rs 30 lakh and a trophy.
Joint captain of the bronze-winning Indian team at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Gurbax also led the national team to gold medal at the 1966 Asian Games.
Amit Singh Bakshi, who was part of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, received the corresponding award for 2021.
Current national team captain Harmanpreet was named the best defender for 2022.
Savita also won the women's player of the year 2021 award while Harmanpreet was named in the men's corresponding category.
Krishan B Pathak was named the best goalkeeper for 2022 while Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam of the women's national team was conferred with the best midfielder award.
Hockey India Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year 2022 was given to Vandana Katariya of the women's national team.
Each of them pocketed Rs 5 lakh, along with a trophy.
Mumtaz Khan won the Asunta Lakra Award for upcoming women's player of the year for 2022 while the men's corresponding honour in the name Jugraj Singh was received by Uttam Singh
Meanwhile, the Indian women's team that won gold at the FIH Women's Nations Cup in Spain in December last was also felicitated during the ceremony with each player winning Rs 2 lakh while the coaching staff was presented with Rs 1 Lakh each.
Also, the Indian junior men's team that won gold at the Sultan of Johor Cup 2022 was also felicitated with each player earning Rs 2.00 lakh each and the coaching staff receiving Rs 1.00 lakh each.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju was among the dignitaries who gave away the awards in the early part of the function. Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur as well as Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar presented the awards to the players later in the day.