Ekalabya Puraskar Conferred On Pratima
Apr 03, 2012
The New Indian Express

Woman sportspersons made a clean sweep of the 19th Ekalabya Puraskar with international rower Pratima Puhan receiving the main award for the year 2011 and Pratima’s partner Pramila Prava Minz and India woman football captain Sasmita Mallick getting the first and second runner-up awards respectively at a function here on Monday.

Forest and Environment Minister Debi Prasad Mishra conferred the prestigious award on Pratima, who received a cash prize of ` 1.5 lakhs along with a statuette and citation. Sports and Youth Services Minister Badri Narayan Patra presented the runner-up awards, which carried a cash price of ` 25,000 each and citation.

Trainees of SAI Watersports Centre, Jagatpur (Cuttack), Pratima and Pramila made history by becoming India’s first woman rowers to win a medal in the 2010 Asian Games. The duo bagged a bronze in the coxless pair event, clocking seven minutes 47-50 seconds at Guangzhou, China on November 19, 2010.

Pratima Puhana and Pramila Prava Minz with guests at the Ekalabya Puraskar function in Bhubaneswar

Continuing her winning spree, Pratima bagged a gold and a silver in the 34th National Games at Dhanbad last year and three gold medals in the 31st Open National Rowing Championship at Hyderabad in February this year.

Both Pramila and Pratima credited their achievements to SAI coach Jose Jacob, who has been grooming rowing talents in Odisha for over a decade despite not getting the recognition he highly deserves.

In the absence of footballer Sasmita Mallick, now an employee of Indian Railways and serving at Patna, her brother Akshaya Mallick received the award.

The Ekalabya Puraskar was instituted by Indian Metals Public Charitable Trust (IMPaCT), the charitable wing of IMFA Group – the leading integrated Ferro Alloys Producer in the Country, in 1993. The Award is given every year to young (u-25) sportspersons of Odisha in recognition of their outstanding performance in the preceding two years.

Past recipients of the award include Rachita Mistry, Anuradha Biswal (both athletics), Dilip Tirkey, Lazrus Barla, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, William Xalxo, Gloria Dung Dung, Subhadra Pradhan (all hockey); Shiv Sundar Das, Debasis Mohanty, Sanjay Raul, Rashmi Ranjan Parida (all cricket); Padmini Rout, Kiran Manisha Mohanty (both chess), Pravasini Dwivedi, Mamata Jena (both rowing) and K Ravi Kumar (weightlifting).

Congratulating the latest award winners Parliament Member and IMPaCT trustee Baijayant Panda said: "IMPaCT has been in continuous pursuit to recognise and foster excellence in sports.

This award has been and will attract young talent and inspire them to perform better in the national and international arena. This shall make our state proud and all of us."

Jury Committee members Pranabindu Acharya, Gopal Krushna Nayak, Lalit Das, S Maqbool Ali and convenor Sanjeev Das were present at the function.

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