It was a proud day for everyone at JSW as two international wrestlers that the Group supports were awarded the coveted Arjuna Award on Saturday evening. 21-year-old Bajrang Punia and 25-year-old Babita Kumari were honoured with the country’s highest decoration for sporting excellence by the Honourable President of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. Bajrang and Babita, who have been amongst the first athletes to be supported by JSW, will leave for the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, USA later tonight.
Bajrang, who at 21 is one of the youngest Arjuna awardees, has had a stellar 2014. The grappler who competes in the 61-kg category won the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and followed it up with another at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Bajrang also won the bronze medal at the 2013 World Wrestling Championship in Budapest competing in the 60-kg category.
Babita, the younger sister of Geeta Phogat, also has a World Wrestling Championship medal in her kitty. Babita took bronze at the 2012 edition in Strathacona County in Canada, winning third place in the 51-kg category. She also won the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, clinching the top prize in the 55 kg category to add to the silver that she had won in the 2010 edition.
Bajrang said that the Arjuna award served as a huge motivation and that the timing of the award could not have been better. “It is always a great feeling when you are recognized for your performances. An award as prestigious as the Arjuna can only help my confidence. With the World Wrestling Championship’s coming up, I know that people will be expecting a good performance. This award will spur me to perform to the best of my abilities, better my performance from the last edition and also earn a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics,” he said.
Babita, who has just made a return from injury, said that receiving the Arjuna Award placed an added sense of responsibility on her and she was confident that it would allow her to improve herself as a wrestler.
“When you are honoured with such a prestigious award, you automatically feel that your performances in the future should be of a higher standard. I want to justify the faith that the people of the country have placed in me and do well at the World Championships. The tournament will be tough but I am confident that my preparation and prior experience will hold me in good stead,” she said.
Mustafa Ghouse, CEO JSW Sports, said that Bajrang and Babita receiving the Arjuna Award was a very proud moment for not just JSW but for the wrestling fraternity as well. “These are two young wrestlers who have performed exceedingly well over the last few years. It is great that the Government has recognized their efforts. We at JSW are committed to providing Bajrang and Babita all the support that they need to aim higher and be able to compete at the highest level,” he said.
Arjuna Awardees 2015 - Mandeep Jangra (boxing), Rohit Sharma (cricket), Sreejesh Ravindran (hockey), MR Poovamma (athletics), Sathish Sivalingam (weightlifting), Jitu Rai (shooting), Manjeet Chillar (kabaddi), Abhilasha Mhatre (kabaddi), Srikanth Kidambi (badminton), Sanathoi Devi (wushu), Swarn Singh Virk (rowing), Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), Sandeep Kumar (archery), Anup Kumar Yama (roller skating), Sharath Gayakwad (para-swimming)