THREE sportspersons from the Indian Army, who have been trained at two sports establishments in Pune, have bagged Arjuna Awards and one Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime contribution this year.
Naib Subedar Dattu Bhokanal and Naib Subedar Lakha Singh (retired), who are from The Bombay Sappers, have won the Arjuna Award for rowing and Dhyan Chand Award for boxing respectively. Subedar Manish Kaushik from the Army Sports Institute (ASI) has won the Arjuna Award for boxing.
The awardees will receive their awards from President Ram Nath Kovind at a virtual function from the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Saturday. While the Arjuna Award is given for consistent outstanding performance for four years, the Dhyan Chand Award is for lifetime contribution to sports development.
Naib Subedar Dattu Bhokanal, who hails from Talegaon Rohi village in Nashik district, was enrolled in The Bombay Sappers in April 2012, where his potential as a rower was identified. His major achievements include two gold medals in the National Games in 2014 and 2017, silver medal in Single Sculls in FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic Regatta, which qualified him to participate in the Rio Olympics in 2016. In Rio 2016, he secured the 13th spot and the Gold Medal in Quadruple Sculls at Asian Games Jakarta – Palembang 2018.
Naib Subedar Bhokanal is presently at the Army Rowing Node in Pune and is preparing to participate in the qualification trials for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled next year. He said that he is confident about his form and hopes to be selected for the Olympics.
Naib Subedar Lakha Singh, who is from Ludhiana, was enrolled in The Bombay Sappers in January 1985 because of his boxing skills in sports quota. Over the next 12 years, he won numerous awards in boxing. Lakha Singh won his first National Gold Medal in 1992 in the 81-kg weight category. He then went on to win another four national championships in the subsequent years. The boxer has a bronze medal in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, a bronze in the 1994 Asian Boxing Championships held in Tehran and a silver in the same championship in Tashkent the following year.
Naib Subedar Lakha Singh has also represented the country in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Now retired, he lives in Ludhiana and has plans to launch a boxing academy in Punjab for upcoming pugilists. Sportspersons from The Bombay Sappers have till now won seven Arjuna Awards, two Dhyan Chand Awards and a Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in adventure activities.
Pugilist from the Army Sports Institute, Subedar Manish Kaushik, has been awarded the Arjuna Award. Subedar Manish joined the Indian Army Mission Olympic Wing and Army Sports Institute in 2016 and became the national champion for the first time by defeating Olympian Shiva Thapa in 2017. Some of his recent major victories are winning a bronze in the World Championship 2019, silver in India Open International Tournament 2019, silver in Commonwealth Games 2018, gold in Asian Game Test Event 2018 and qualifying for Tokyo Olympics.
This year, the ASI has won the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar for the year 2020 under the category ‘Identification and Nurturing of Budding and Young Talent’. The award is given to corporate entities — both in private and public sector — and individuals who have played a visible role in the area of sports promotion and development. The seven disciplines in which ASI conducts training are archery, athletics, boxing, diving, fencing, weightlifting and wrestling. The institute draws its sportsmen from the Army as well as from the young talent pool from the Boys Sports Companies in 8-14 age group.