Bodybuilder S Bhaskaran, who has been conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award, feels it would provide a fillip to the sport. The Chennai-based Bhaskaran, who won the Asian championship and the world championship in Thailand last year, was felicitated by the Indian Body Builder Federation (IBBF) in Chennai on Saturday. He said the award was recognition of his hard work and would also benefit the sport. The 41-year-old became the first bodybuilder to win the Arjuna award since T Pauly in 1999. Bhaskaran thanked his family and mother for helping him achieve his dreams, and the IBBF for its support. He also hoped the future generation of bodybuilders would get recognition. IBBF president Chethan Pathare was also present.
Deepa Malik, who secured a silver in the shot put F53 category in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on National Sports Day. Deepa Malik, who became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the 2016 Paralympics Games, has backed out of the next Games in 2020 in Tokyo due to injury and is instead considering taking up swimming. Malik had secured silver in shot put in 2016 Paralympics, but she revealed that shot put and javelin in her disability category were not a part of the next Paralympics, which will be hosted by Tokyo from August 25.
Malik was joint winner of the top honour with Asian and Commonwealth Games champion Bajrang Punia, who is in Russia to prepare for the upcoming World Championships in Kazakhstan. Malik became only the second para-athlete after double Paralympic gold-medallist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who received the recognition in 2017, to have won the prestigious award. At 49, she also became the oldest athlete ever to have claimed the honour. Malik became fourth-time lucky as she was ignored for the award for the past three years, leading her to question and criticise the decision.