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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

With Arjuna Award boost, Gaurav Gill hopes to go full throttle

The Arjuna Award for Gill is the first time a motorsport candidate has been nominated; motorsports has been struggling for legitimacy to be counted as a sport in India.

other-sports Updated: Aug 20, 2019 21:29 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A file photo of Gaurav Gill.
A file photo of Gaurav Gill.(HT Photo)
         

Gaurav Gill could not believe that he had been nominated for the Arjuna Award. The top rally driver’s name had been recommended thrice in the past and rejected each time.

“We have been snubbed every year. After hearing the news, I waited and made a few phone calls to confirm. It was pretty much of a shocker but at the same time it was a sentimental moment for me and my family,” said Gill, a three-time winner of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).

“It is a big achievement, not only for me but for our sport. We had been trying for years to get our achievements noted but the ministry has its own ways... but better late than never.”

The Arjuna Award for Gill is the first time a motorsport candidate has been nominated; motorsports has been struggling for legitimacy to be counted as a sport in India.

But ever since the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) got the National Sports Federation (NSF) status in 2015, the governing body of motorsports in India has been trying to push Gill’s name for the Arjuna.

“It is a milestone in Indian motorsport. We expect more corporates to involve themselves in a bigger way in motorsport now that the government has recognised our sportsperson,” said FMSCI president J Prithviraj from Coimbatore.

“It’ll encourage youngsters to take up motorsport. Gaurav will be looked at like a lot of our big stars and sports personalities,” he added.

A six-time time national rally champion, Gill also intends to speak to sports minister Kiren Rijiju about the problems in motorsports in India.

“I am going to speak to the minister to have some exemptions for us because our equipment is very expensive. On top of that we are levied huge taxes. If we can find a way where we are exempted from these taxes, that will be a big boost for our sport,” said Gill.

The 37-year-old gave the example of Kenya where taxes have been exempted for motorsport activities. “Our sport requires sponsorship. This award should change the face of the sport and more opportunities should open up for a lot of newcomers. They will come in with an aim, a goal that tomorrow they can also be bestowed with the Arjuna if they make it big.”

Gill switched from MRF to JK Tyre earlier this year to participate in the World Rally Championship-2 (WRC), a companion and feeder series to the main WRC. He took part in a few WRC rallies last year but as MRF opted out of WRC-2 this year, Gill decided to return to JK Tyre.

“I didn’t want to sit out of the WRC because I had proved my speed last year. As a sportsman I don’t want to waste any time when I am at the peak of my fitness and career. I will take part in rallies in Turkey, Britain and Australia this year and will try and do the whole series next year and win it,” said Gill.