Asian Games gold medalist wrestler Bajrang Punia, pistol prodigy Manu Bhaker, women's hockey player Rani Rampal and cricketer Rishabh Pant won this year's Delhi Sports Journalists Association's (DSJA) Best Sportspersons awards here on Thursday.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Narinder Batra presented the awards to the above athletes. While Bajrang and Rishabh won the laurels among men, Rani and Manu were conferred the recognition in the female category.
"It is very inspiring when sports journalists give such awards," said Bajrang, adding that the award would inspire him to work harder in the build up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Wicket Keeper Rishabh Pant adds , "I can never forget how many Delhi sports journalists encouraged me from my early days," recalling the support he received from the media during his junior cricketing days.
Manu's award was received by her father as the ace shooter is currently representing the country at the Asian Air Gun Championship in Chinese Taipei.
Also, the award for the best coaches were awarded to Jaspal Rana (shooting) and Tarak Sinha (cricket).
Rishabh Pant, a product of Tarak Sinha's Sonnet Club, collected the award on behalf of his coach.
The award ceremony was attended by a galaxy of sportspersons, with International Olympic Committee member Randhir Singh, hockey Olympians Harbinder Singh, Jagbir Singh and Zafar Iqbal, trap shooter Moraad Ali Khan and JK Tyre Motor Sports Head Sanjay Sharma presenting the awards to the winners.
- Best Sportsman: Bajrang Punia (wrestling) and Rishabh Pant (cricket).
- Best Sportswoman: Rani Rampal (hockey) and Manu Bhaker (shooting).
- Lifetime achievement: Karnam Malleswari (weightlifting) and Raj Singh (wrestling).
- Best Coach: Jaspal Rana (shooting) and Tarak Sinha (cricket).
- Special Awards: Abhishek Verma (archery), Divij Sharan (tennis), Diksha Dagar (golf), Gaurav Gill (motorsports), Meenakshi Pahuja (channel swimming) and Seema Yadav (amateur marathon runner).