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Sports award dispute - Radical changes needed, transparency is the key word

ANALYST
Feature
1.26K   //    23 Aug 2013, 13:23 IST
Olympics Day 8 - Athletics

Krishna Poonia

The strong protest by Krishna Poonia and many other athletes did not impress the ministry of sports, and there will be no change in the list of the names put forward for Arjuna and Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna awards.

This is a really big setback for Poonia as she was harbouring hopes that her name will be reconsidered, especially due to the fact that Ronjan Sodhi didn’t have any major achievements to show during the last one year. Still, Sodhi will be receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

The only change affected in the proceedings is that now the awards will be distributed at President House on 31st August 2013, instead of 29th August, as announced earlier. It is interesting to note that a shooter will be receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for a third year running. Gagan Narang got this prestigious award in the year 2010-11 and Vijay Kumar in 2011-12.

The heartening news is that Pullela Gopichand’s academy will be receiving the “Establishment and Management of Sports Academies of Excellence” award for its excellent contribution to badminton in the country through his academy in Hyderabad.

It is pertinent to add that Gopichand, our current national badminton coach, has already got the Arjun Award in 1999, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2001, and Dronacharya award in the year 2009.

The common man does not understand the complications of the procedure of the nomination. Neither does he understand the modalities adopted by the committee formed for the purpose.

But what we do know is that everyone was thrilled when Virat Kohli and P V Sindhu‘s names were announced. The sports loving people also understand that it is practically not possible to appease every sportsperson. By and large, a few of the aspirants will show their resentment every time the list will be made public.

But since the last few years, the voices of protests are getting louder and he athletes are getting more vocal. The intensity is so grave that one of the athletes had threatened to move to court against the injustice done!

Not favoring any sportsperson in particular, what I intend to highlight is that if the selection procedure was in order, the media would not have given support to these protests!

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So, somewhere there is a lack of transparency, responsibility and accountability. Most of the newspapers and other modes of media have put a question mark on the way the list has been finalized.

Krishna Poonia, by virtue of her own personal endurance, has done excellently well in an unconventional sport – that too in the women’s category, so she deserves a through consideration.

Interestingly, the sports minister did not deny her claim and had ensured her that the matter will be reviewed. Also, if performance is the criteria, Somdev Devvarman should be a contender for an award, having already won gold medals in Commonwealth games and Asian games, as well as entering the world’s top 70.

Thus, it will be in the fitness of things that legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Dhanraj Pillay, PT Usha and other able and non-controversial people shall be associated with the selection.

The existing procedure involves veteran coaches, former Olympians etc. is not viable. This is the high time to nurture transparency, as the ever increasing popularity of sports among the youth needs to be sustained.

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