Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], January 15 (ANI): Punjab Sports and Youth Services Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi on Friday said that the state is all set to excel in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Sodhi honoured the 90 players, who brought laurels for the state and country in the year 2017-18, with prizes worth around INR 1.66 crores.
Sodhi said that starting with the first phase on Friday of providing monetary assistance to players, they have initiated the process to fulfill the promise made to the sports fraternity to honour them for their remarkable achievements in the sports arena of international and national repute.
In the coming days, such 1,135 sportspersons would be accorded with cash prizes as the COVID pandemic has already delayed the process of honouring sports persons.
"Punjab is all set to excel in the Tokyo Olympics-2021 and bagging maximum quota for the state for this mega event is the main and sole aim with Punjab Institute of Sports (P.I.S.) and other allied institutions engaged headlong and burning midnight oil under the aegis of the Sports Department," said Sodhi.
Sodhi said that these 90 players are being given Rs 1,65,65,700. "I hope, this initiative would be advantageous for the budding players to boost their morale for excelling the international sports, especially in Tokyo-2021 Olympics," he said, adding that the sports department has decided to provide cash awards worth Rs 4.85 crores to decorated players, out of which, around Rs 1.66 crores have been disbursed on Friday.
Pointing out further, Sodhi said that maximum podium finishes are expected from Punjab with hockey as the leading contender because the half of national hockey squad is expected to feature players from the state.
Divulging about presenting a cheque of Rs 5 lakh on behalf of the Punjab Government to the pugilist Simranjit Kaur, who is the first boxer from the state to qualify for Olympics, Sodhi said that Simranjit is also the first boxer from Punjab, who bagged silver in the Asia-Oceania qualifying tournament and secured a place in the Olympics.
Announcing that the Punjab Government would bear the expenses of Simranjit Kaur's preparation for the Olympics, the minister disclosed that the prodigy from Punjab also had a preparation stint at Punjab Institute of Sports.
He also revealed that till now, 74 players from the country had qualified for the 35 events with many shooters and boxers also holding great promise.
As many as 36 sportspersons, who had excelled at the international and national level during the year 2017-18 have been awarded with around Rs 1.26 crore during the first phase of award ceremony.
Similarly, Sodhi honored 54 national level sportspersons with prize money of Rs 39.39 lakhs.
Expressing grief over the death of Special Olympian Rajvir Singh (21) of Siarh village of district Ludhiana, who had won two gold medals in cycling at the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles, Sodhi announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakhs to the next family members of the deceased Olympic athlete. He said that the matter of providing financial assistance to this special sportsperson had come to the notice of the sports department about five months back and since then, the department had started the process of providing financial assistance to him. (ANI)