Bengaluru, January 11: The Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) on Thursday (January 11) honoured the state's best athletes at an event organised in the city.
Ten active athletes across different sports, three former players, one media representative and a sports medicine expert received the awards from Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala at the department of youth empowerment and sports. Also present were state home minister Ramalinga Reddy, additional chief secretary Rajneesh Goel, DYES director Anupam Agarwal and KOA officials.
While the active sportspersons and the sports reporter received a cheque of Rs 1 lakh each, the veterans received half of that amount. The sports medicine expert received Rs 25,000.
"The KOA has been serving Karnataka for the last 60 years," KOA president K Govindaraj said at the function. "It's a good milestone to reach because we'll also inaugurate our own building at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium this year called the Karnataka Olympic Bhavan. Next year onwards, we'll have our awards function there itself."
Badminton star Daniel S Farid, one of the awardees, was jubilant on the occasion. "It's the first time I am receiving any kind of award," he said. "This motivates me to do more on the court and I am thankful to the KOA for appreciating my efforts in the sport." Farid plays for Chennai Smashers in the Premier Badminton League. He won the U-17 national badminton championship in 2013 and is the state's badminton champ.
Kushi V, a rising table tennis player, said: "The aim for me is to obviously represent the country in table tennis and bring medals. Until now, I was playing in the junior circuit and now that I will play in the women's singles category, the competition will be tougher. I will give my best. The KOA is definitely supporting us whenever we ask for their help."
Governor Vala lauded the efforts of the KOA officials for their contribution to sports administration. "Our people need to have a sportsman-like spirit," he said in his address. "In cricket, a player sometimes walks away after being caught behind even if the umpire has not declared him out if he knows he has nicked the ball. That's the sportsman-like spirit I am talking about.
"The kings used to promote sports in the olden days. After independence, each state's government had to look after its sports infrastructure. In such a situation, the KOA has completed 60 years of existence and I appreciate their efforts over the years for helping out our sportspersons."
Reddy hoped the state government, led by chief minister Siddaramaiah, will increase the budget for sports this year. "Our government has increased the budget for sports from Rs 140 crore in 2016 to Rs 280 crore in 2017," Reddy said. "This year, we've requested the CM, who is also the finance minister, to increase the budget to Rs 400 crore."
List of awardees:
Active sportspersons: Daniel S Farid (badminton), Anil Kumar (basketball), Naveen John (cycling), Pradhan Somanna (hockey), V. Avinash (judo), Sharmadaa Baluu (tennis), B Nikhil (shooting), M Avinash (swimming), V Kushi (table tennis), Sandeep Kate (wrestling)
Retired sportspersons: Subramani (hockey), Balaji Narasimhan (football), Udaya Kumar (tennis)
Others: Hemanth Sampaje (media), Dr. Kiran Kumar Kulkarni (sports medicine).