Bhubaneswar: Para-badminton world champion Pramod Bhagat, chess Grand Master Swayams Mishra and eminent athletics coaches Panchanan Gantayat and Arun Kumar Das were conferred with the Annual Awards of Odisha Sports Journalists Association (OSJA) in a function held at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack today.
The awards, carrying cheques of Rs 25,000 each and citations were conferred for the years 2019 and 2020. Pramod and Swayams received the awards as the OSJA Sportsperson of the Year 2019 and 2020 respectively. Similarly, Panchanan Gantayat and Arun Das bagged the OSJA Lifetime Achievement Awards for the year 2019 and 2020 respectively. In the absence of Gantayat, his brother received the award on his behalf.
Odisha Football Association and Odisha Athletics Association Secretary Asirbad Behera, athletics Olympian Anuradha Biswal and former football international Rajendra Prasad Singh graced the function as guests and handed over the awards. Eminent media-persons Hrudayanath Das, Shyamakanta Pattanayak and Pramod’s doubles partner Manoj Sarkar were felicitated on the occasion, which coincided with sixth Foundation Day of OSJA.
OSJA President Sandeep Mishra, Working President K Ravi, Organising Committee Secretary Susanta Mohanty and Secretary Sambit Mohapatra were present on the occasion. All the guests and awardees were unequivocally appreciated the role played by sports journalists over the years for promotion of sports in the state.
Swayams Mishra became the second Grand Master of Odisha and 62nd of the country in May 2020. Before taking to coaching, Arun Kumar Das excelled as a javelin thrower, winning two junior national bronze medals in his heydays. He created a meet record of 57.96m at the Junior National Athletics Championship in Ahmedabad, 50 years ago.
After obtaining a coaching diploma in athletics from National Institute of Sports, Patiala in 1974-75, Das groomed many national and international athletes including Olympian Anuradha Biswal. He served as a government athletics coach for 35 years before retiring in 2010. Odisha Sports Journalists’ Association (OSJA) is the only affiliated Odisha unit of Sports Journalists’ Federation of India (SJFI). OSJA has been conferring its Annual Awards since the year 2018.
International heptathlete Purnima Hembram and veteran footballer Debendra Singh had bagged the OSJA Sportsperson and Lifetime Achievement Awards respectively for the year 2017. The awards for the year 2018 had been bestowed on hockey star Amit Rohidas and boxing coach Braja Bhusan Mohanty.