A picture of 'Indo-Pak Express' tennis stars, Rohan Bopana and his doubles partner Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi, taken by the US-based Indian photo journalist Jay Mandal has won the 'Image of the Year' prize under the prestigious 'Peace and Sport' award.
For the first time, the winner of the award for Peace and Sport's Image of the Year was chosen by a public voting system on Internet. The winning photograph of Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Qureshi, submitted by the ATP World Tour, won nearly 60 per cent of the votes.
"The message of peace given by Rohan and Aisam is a unique source of inspiration for young people in their respective countries, but its significance does not stop there," Joel Bouzou, President and founder of 'Peace and Sport' that gives the prestigious award said at a ceremony announcing the 21st edition of the Georges Bertellotti Golden Podium Awards held at SPORTEL Monaco.
"They use their charisma and their sporting success to raise awareness amongst the entire international community, their fellow athletes and political authorities in their countries, as we saw at the US Open. I hope that their appeal will lead the way to new rapprochement initiatives," Bouzou said.
The picture captured by New York-based Mandal shows the two tennis star from the sub-continent along with Indian Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri and his Pakistani counterpart Abdullah H Haroon.
Despite the differences between the two countries, Bopanna and Qureshi have played doubles for three years. "Sport's greatest victory is not measured in terms of medals.
It is measured by its ability to positively change people's lives and bring them hope. And that's exactly what Rohan and Aisam succeed in doing. They demonstrate what champions can achieve when they use their celebrity (status) for a good cause," Bouzou said.
According to a media release, the two players will be attending the 4th International Forum Peace and Sport on December 2 in Monaco with 450 international leaders.