Finally, Punjab to honour its greatest sporting icons
Finally, the Punjab government has included the state’s six legendary sportspersons — hockey player Balbir Singh Senior, athletes Milkha Singh, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa and Kamaljeet Sandhu, 1975 hockey world cup winning skipper Ajit Pal Singh and cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi — in the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Awards’ list.
They will get the state highest sporting honour, along with 93 other outstanding sportspersons, in a ceremony going to be held on July 9 in Chandigarh.
This comes after Hindustan Times highlighted that the Punjab government had forgotten its biggest sporting icons for the state’s highest sporting honour — Maharaja Ranjit Singh award on July 5 that the government has now included the names of six sporting icons for the award, considering them a special case.
The government has informed them about their inclusion in the award list and extended them the official invitation for the function on Saturday.
As per the state’s new sports policy — drafted in 2011 and amended in October 2018 — all Padma, Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardees from Punjab, are automatically eligible for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award. The government had earlier invited the applications for the state award and 12 Arjuna and Padma awardees applied for it and were considered.
“The government has considered the names of these six greatest sporting icons from the state for the award, as a special case. And in future, if any other veteran sportsperson is left out, we will consider them in the future award ceremonies,” says a Punjab sports department official.
As triple-Olympic hockey gold medallist Balbir Singh is hospitalised, the government is planning to present him the award later.
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