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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dry run for first-ever remote National Sports Awards ceremony triggers anxiety

Wearing PPE Kits, undergoing Covid-19 tests and travelling for 7-8 hours without food or family were the experiences of some of the 65 national sports awardees as they attended the dress rehearsal of the ceremony.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: August 28, 2020 2:58:12 pm
Assam’s boxer Lovlina (left) wears PPE Kit for the rehearsal function at UT Secretariat in Sector 9 of Chandigarh for National Sports Awards 2020 after she was selected for Arjuna award. Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh

Wearing PPE Kits, undergoing Covid-19 tests and travelling for 7-8 hours without food or family to various Sports Authority of India centres and other venues were the experiences of some of the 65 national sports awardees as they attended the dress rehearsal of the ceremony on Thursday ahead of the real thing on Saturday.

In Chandigarh, where the dress rehearsal was conducted for three hours at the UT Secretariat building, Tokyo Olympics-bound boxer Lovlina Borgohain came from NIS, Patiala, wearing a PPE kit and returned in the evening. She had also undergone a Covid test and it was only after her report came negative that the pugilist attended the rehearsal.

“Since I had travelled from Assam to Patiala last week, I read about how to wear a PPE Kit, use a face mask and sanitize/reuse them after use. Wearing the PPE kit for six hours was a little stressful but it was for everyone’s safety. There is a disappointment of not receiving the award from the President but I guess there will be more such instances if I win an Olympic medal one day,” shared Lovlina.

Former Indian women’s chief boxing coach Shiv Singh is among the eight chosen for the Dronacharya award in the lifetime category, and the Chandigarh-based coach found the experience of a 24-hour wait for the test report a nervous one. “Aaj kal ke time main thoda fear toh rehta hi hai har kisi ke mann main (During these times, there is some fear in everybody’s mind). I went to the Mohali Covid-testing centre on Wednesday and the last 24 hours made me a little nervous. While I was excited about the virtual awards ceremony, I was also eager to see the test report. Once it came negative, I made sure that I kept a safe distance from the other awardees,” the 64-year-old said.

remote Awards Football player Sandesh Jhingan arrives for a rehearsal function at UT Secretariat in Sector 9 of Chandigarh for National Sports Awards 2020. He was selected for Arjuna award. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Six-time Winter Olympian luger Shiva Keshavan had been at his family home in Kerala for the last six months before the 38-year-old had stepped out of Wayanad to take a flight to Delhi to attend the dress rehearsal and the virtual award ceremony. Keshavan attended the rehearsal at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi and will be heading to his home in Manali post the awards ceremony.

“The current situation meant that I could not travel to any other city for the last six months. There is a little bit of uneasiness when one is travelling for the first time in such times and it is weird to see the world in a different way. I believe the ceremony will be telecasted on national television and I will also share the link with my cousins in Italy, who have seen the real ceremony in the past on TV and wanted to go with me if I got the award one day (laughs). I hope there is a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan later when the situation improves,” says Keshavan.

READ | Why Sakshi Malik and Mirabai Chanu were justified in applying for Arjuna Award

Former Indian football coach Sukhwinder Singh, who has been selected for the Dhyan Chand award, will be following the ceremony from Langley, British Columbia, Canada where he had gone for his son’s wedding. “We had come to Canada in February for my son’s wedding which was supposed to happen in April but had to be postponed. Sports Authority of India officials contacted me last week and told me that they will be using my photograph for the online ceremony and the trophy and citation will be sent to my home in Punjab,” Singh said.

Sprinter Dutee Chand travelled from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata, a journey that took more than 12 hours. Dutee, selected for the Arjuna award, was accompanied by her coach and the driver in the car. “After undergoing a Covid-19 test in Bhubaneswar, I decided to travel to Kolkata by road. Usually, the journey takes about five hours but due to rains and road work, we reached in 12 hours and at 5 a.m. At the meeting hall, there were five of us and we were told where to sit and how to stand up and say namaste when the President interacts virtually. I will be undergoing another Covid-19 test before returning,” she said.

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