World champion shuttler PV Sindhu on Thursday won ESPN’s ‘Female Sportsperson of the Year’ award for a third consecutive time while young shooter Saurabh Chaudhary bagged the honour in the male category.
Saurabh won a total of five World Cup gold medals – two in the men’s 10m air pistol and another three in the 10m air pistol mixed team event at the ISSF World Cup 2019. He also won a 10m air pistol bronze medal at the World Cup in Rio.
Sprinter Dutee Chand became the first winners of the ‘Courage’ award for being inspirational both on and off the field. She fought the world athletics governing body – the IAAF’s discriminatory hypoandrogenism regulations, and earned her right to race again.
In 2019, Sindhu became the first Indian athlete to come out and talk about being in a relationship with a female friend.
Ace chess player Koneru Humpy won the award for the ‘Comeback of the Year’ after claiming her first world title in December 2019 by winning the Women’s World Rapid Chess Championships in Moscow to cap a remarkable comeback.
The former junior world champion had taken a two-year maternity sabbatical between 2016 and 2018 to look after her newborn daughter.
Wrestler Deepak Punia’s gold in the world junior championship, silver in the world senior championship, and earning qualification for the Tokyo Olympics made him a natural choice for the coveted ESPN’s ‘Emerging Sportsperson of the Year’ award.
Pullela Gopichand, chief national badminton coach, claimed the ‘Coach of the Year’ award, for nurturing two Olympic medalists in Saina Nehwal and Sindhu.
Sindhu’s World Championship win, the first by an Indian in badminton, has also been selected as the ‘Moment of the Year’.
Manu Bhaker-Saurabh Chaudhary grabbed the ‘Team of the Year’ honour.’ The 10m air pistol mixed team combination completed their clean sweep at 2019 World Cups.
Manasi Joshi, 30, won ‘Differently-abled athlete of the year/Para-athlete of the year’ award. Joshi became world champion after winning the gold medal at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in 2019.
Hockey legend Balbir Singh (Senior), one of independent India’s most celebrated Olympians, has been conferred with ESPN’s ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award.
Balbir played a starring role in the national hockey team’s triple golds in London 1948, Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. He also worked with the national team as coach at the 1971 World Cup and as a manager in Kuala Lumpur four years later, when India won their only World Cup title to date.
ESPN Multi-Sport Awards recognized achievements across 10 categories.