Lakshya, a not-for-profit organisation based in Pune, has been honoured with the prestigious Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar at the 2020 National Sports Awards. This year, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the National Sports Awards will be conferred on August 29 in a virtual ceremony.
Started by a group of sports enthusiasts 10 years ago, Lakshya provided much-needed support to Indian athletes so that they could represent India at big international events, and win medals. So far, the organisation has extended its support to more than 100 sports persons across eight disciplines, including Olympians such as Rahi Sarnobat, Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra and Ashwini Ponappa.
Vishal Chordia, president of Lakshya, said it was a privilege to receive the award and get recognised for all the hard work. “Ten years back, when people were questioning the ability of Indian athletes to win medals at global events, we knew that with the right kind of support, this could be made possible. We are happy to see a journey — whose inception took place over coffee — has now made confident and strong strides. This not only inspires us but motivates us to work harder for the players’ well-being and contribute to nation-building,” he said.
Vice-president Swastik Sirsikar said Lakshya has helped deserving candidates with the required support. “Earlier, there was a misbelief around sports being a career choice for the players. Most often than not, when the player entered Class IX or X, their parents advised them to focus on academics. Sports was not seen as a potential career. In the last decade, Lakshya has not only aided the players in aspects of guidance, training, nutrition, mental coaching and monetary backing, but also to make their parents realise that sports helps in the overall development of the player,” he said.
From helping Asian Games champion Rani Sarnobat find the right grip for her pistol, which led to her qualification at the 2012 Olympics and a complete turnaround of her career, or supporting young shooter Mampi Das in not only excelling in the sport but also helping her mother get back the jewellery which she had mortgaged so that Mampi could pursue sports, Lakshya pledges to back the athletes all the way.
“I still remember, there was a time when Ankita Raina was failing to find motivation as her mother was away for her job, while she was training in Pune. So we managed to get a job transfer for her mother to Pune after requesting her employer, and after that there was no looking back for Ankita as she kept performing well consistently,” said Sunder Iyer, secretary of Lakshya, about the tennis player.
Chess Grandmaster and player management head Abhijeet Kunte stated that currently they are ensuring support to 35 athletes from eight disciplines, including athletes like 2021 Olympic-qualified boxers Pooja Rani and Simranjit Kaur, ace paddler Sharath Kamal, wrestler Sunil Kumar and chess player Vidit Gujarathi.
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