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Year-End Awards: Athletes who were India's COVID superstars in 2020

Year-End Awards: Athletes who were Indias COVID superstars in 2020

Md Imtiaz

Published: 28 Dec 2020 6:03 AM GMT

The outbreak of COVID-19 across the world in 2020 had quite a grim effect on sports. Since mid-March, most sports across the world and also in India were on hold. The men’s T20 World Cup was due to take place in Australia this year from October but was cancelled. The biggest blow, however, came with the suspension of the Tokyo Olympic games 2020, which has so far been postponed to July 2021.

As the year drew to its fag end, sports slowly made its way back, of course with several conditions and protocols in check, and finally gave sports lovers around the globe to cheer for their heroes. While sports were suspended, many of our sports stars emerged as COVID heroes who won hearts with their noble initiatives during the tough times amid the lockdown induced by the pandemic. Here we look at some of those COVID heroes.

Bajrang Punia

The 25-year-old Bajrang is one of India's medal contenders at the Olympic Games, which is under doubt due to the coronavirus. Bajrang, the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist, works with the Railways as an officer on special duty (OSD).

"I have decided to donate my six months salary," Bajrang tweeted and immediately earned praise from Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who said it was a laudable effort. Talking to PTI, Bajrang said, "Before Olympics we have to fight coronavirus . India's foreign coach for women wrestlers Andrew Cook has also left for the US a few days ago.

Returning to action after almost 10 months, Bajrang Punia gave a dominating performance to win the Flo-Wrestling Challenge in Texas, Austin a week ago. Punia defeated two-time world medallist James Green of US 8-4 in the final and pocketed $25000 in prize money.

PV Sindhu

World champion shuttler P.V. Sindhu donated Rs. 5 lakh each to the Chief Minister’s Relief Funds of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to fight the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.

“I hereby donate an amount of Rs 5,00,000/- each (Rs five lakhs ) towards the Chief Ministers Relief Fund for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to fight against COVID-19,” the Hyderabad-born shuttler wrote on her twitter handle.

Sindhu, who is in the UK, is amid the travel restrictions in the country after several nations, including India, have imposed travel bans because of a new mutant virus. However, the 25-year-old, who last competed in March in the All England Championship, is confident of playing in Thailand next month.

Hima Das

In the fight against Coronavirus, ace Indian sprinter Hima Das has donated her one-month salary to Assam’s COVID-19 relief fund.

“Friends it’s high time to stand together and support people who need us. I am contributing 1 month of my salary to Assam government in Assam Arogya Nidhi Account made to safeguard the health of people in the wake of COVID-19,” she tweeted.

Indians could soon witness Hima Das and Dutee Chand run together after it was announced that they would team up in the 4x100m women’s relay. India has not qualified for the 4x100m women’s relay in the Olympics since Sydney 2000 and pairing up the country’s two most prominent sprinters is a proactive step to achieve that goal. For Hima Das, this will be the first instance of running in a shorter relay. After bursting onto the scene as the 400m World Junior champion in 2018, Das has been beset by back injuries, forcing her to shift focus to the 100m and 200m sprints.

Sourav Ganguly

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly pledged to donate rice worth Rs 50 lakh to the needy people. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), in its statement, said Ganguly along with Lal Baba Rice will provide rice to people who have been put in government schools for safety and security. "#Sourav to provide Free Rice to the Needy It is heartening to note that Sourav Ganguly along with Lal Baba Rice has come forward to provide free rice worth Rs 50 lacs to the needy people who have been put in government schools for safety and security. Hope this initiative of Ganguly would encourage other citizens of the state to take up similar initiatives to serve the people of our state. #CAB," CAB said in a statement. Ganguly extended a helping hand to ISKCON's Kolkata centre, enabling them to feed 20,000 people, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, every day.

Also read: Year-end awards: Sporting moments that made us smile during the pandemic

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