Exciting news for motorsports in India! Motorsport athletes are finally getting their due recognition and credit. As Gaurav Gill becomes the first person from the game to receive the Arjuna Award – one of the country’s top sports awards, the motorsport community is rejoicing for the boost this addition brings to its image and position amongst the many sports communities.
Motorsport catches the eye of nomination committee
The ace rally driver is among the 19 sportsmen and women nominated for the 2019 Arjuna Awards. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India(FMSCI) had been suggesting Gill’s name for the award consecutively for the past three years. Finally, 2019 has been the year that Gaurav Gill got nominated for the award – a first for Indian motorsports.
Though Gaurav was disappointed at not going farther than the nomination stage in the past, he didn’t let that affect his performance. He says it is his duty to perform his best, irrespective of him getting an award or not. Gill thinks being recognized by the government as one of the best sportspersons in the country is bound to give his field of sports a much needed boost.
Committee selects Gaurav Gill’s name
Gill’s name was finalized by a selection committee of twelve members, headed by the Supreme Court Justice Mukundakam Sharma. Sports secretary Radhey Shyam Jhulaniya, Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Rajesh Rajagopalan, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandeep Pradhan, former women’s cricket captain Anjum Chopra, 5 times world champion Mary Kom, former men’s football captain Baichung Bhutia, long jumper Anju Bobby George, table tennis coach Kamlesh Mehta, Times of India’s Chief Editor Rajesh Kalra and acclaimed sports commentator Charu Sharma were the members of this committee. The committee selected the winners not only for the Arjuna Award but also for other national sports awards – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (India’s highest sports award), Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award, Dronacharya Award (for coaches) and also the Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievements.
The Arjuna Award nomination was long overdue for Gill who has a curated career in the sport. He has been a part of motorsports for nearly twenty years now, and has many accolades to his name. Besides representing the country at many international platforms, he has won many domestic Indian rallies and championships as well.
From motorcycle racing to car rallies
Gaurav Gill is an ace Indian racer who was born in December 1981. The 37 year old first competed in motorsports racing motorbikes in the National Motocross Championship in 1999. Thereafter, he started playing in the four wheel category by competing in various car rallies and endurance races. He came second in the National Road Racing Championship in 2003 and won the title the next year. In 2007, Gill won national rally championship with the MRF team. In the same year, he also made his debut at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). He became the first Indian to win the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in the year 2013, and also won the championship in 2016 and 2017. He has a record of winning every single Dakshin Dare Rally that he has participated in. Last year, he participated in the World Rally Championship 2 (WRC2) with MRF, where he drove a Ford Fiesta R5 in al the four rounds that he took part in. This year he will participate in at least three rounds of WRC2 events with JK tyres. He is also going to compete in the Indian National Rally Championship with Mahindra Adventure.
Consistency key to winning the award
Other than Gill, many incredible athletes have been nominated this year. The Athletics section found its name in the list with nomination of Tejinderpal Singh, Swapna Barman and Mohammed Anas. Chinglensana Singh from Hockey, Ajay Thakur from Kabaddi, Equestrian player Fouaad Mirza and Simran Singh Shergil for Polo are all the lone representatives of their categories. Among cricketers are Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav; Sonia Lather from Boxing, S. Bhaskaran from bodybuilding, Anju Moudgil from shooting, Harmeet Rajul Desai from table tennis, Pooja Dhanda from wrestling and goalkeeper of the Indian football team Gulpreet Singh Sindhu are among other players to be nominated. From the Para Sports section, Sundar Singh Gurjar (Athletics) and Pramod Bhagat (Badminton) made the list.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organizes the Arjuna Awards that are given to the best players of the country based on the criteria set by the government of India, The government has revised the criteria for the Arjuna Award over the years. As per the guidelines, to be eligible for the award, a sportsperson should have a good performance consistently for the last four years at the international level and they should perform with excellence in the year for which the award is recommended. They should also portray qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline. The Award ceremony was started in 1961. Each winner of the award gets a cash prize of Rs. 500,000, a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll.