TOISA 2021: Neeraj Chopra gets Sportsperson of the Year Award; Bishan Bedi given Lifetime Achievement

NEW DELHI: Neeraj Chopra traded his javelin for a badminton racquet. PV Sindhu didn’t. What followed was an impromptu game of badminton on the dais of the Times of India Sports Awards 2021 (TOISA) function in the Capital on Friday. Don’t ask who won. It was one of those matches where nobody kept score as both were winning. Arguably two of India’s finest Olympians, Chopra and Sindhu were at their fun-loving best on the stage.
Not only Chopra and Sindhu, but other sporting stars – both present and former – of the country were having a ball at the 2021 TOISA. Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu couldn’t stop herself from hoisting the emcee of the event when she was challenged whether she could pull off the stunt. Peals of laughter echoed in the hall following Chanu’s act. The start of the day was full of excitement and anticipation, as the cream of Indian sports gathered under one roof to celebrate the best of 2021.

Expectedly, Chopra claimed the top prize of Sportsperson of the Year. 2021 saw Chopra win a historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics. “I am thankful to TOISA and jury members for giving me this award and selecting me. Of course, these kinds of awards give me a lot of confidence and encouragement to go further,” Chopra told TOI.
A host of dignitaries including Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey, Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla, Sports Authority of India director general Sandip Pradhan and former India cricketer Madan Lal were present at the event.
Spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi was given the Lifetime Achievement award. Para shooter Avani Lekhara, who won gold and a bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics, was awarded with the Para Sportsperson of the Year.

Besides the special awards, which included Sportsperson of the Year, Para Sportsperson of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and Lifetime Achievement award, TOISA 2021 saw winners in both men and women categories across 16 disciplines. They were: archery, athletics, para athletics, badminton, para badminton, boxing, chess, cricket, football, hockey, shooting, para shooting, table tennis, para table tennis, wrestling and weightlifting.
The Indian men’s hockey team won the Team of the Year award. The Coach of the Year award was given jointly to national weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma and Olympic bronze medallist boxer Lovlina Borgohain’s coach Sandhya Gurung.
Young weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga, who recently won gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, clinched the Young Achiever of the Year award. “I am honoured to get the award. My target now is to win a medal at the Paris Olympics. It is all about maintaining fitness and keep practicing hard,” Lalrinnunga said.

A special award – Outstanding Achievement in Sports – was given to Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia. Among other awards, boxing legend Mary Kom was given the Inspiring Woman of the Decade, while fencer Bhawani Devi bagged the Building New Sport award. The Athletics Federation of India was given the Best Federation award. Coming to the various sports awards that were given, double Olympic medallist PV Sindhu got the Badminton Player of the Year (female), while Kidambi Srikanth got the award in the male section.
“It is a huge achievement to bring together so many athletes from the past and present. I must congratulate all the winners. The award is definitely a morale-booster,” Sindhu said.
“I will try my level best to get the missing gold at the Paris Olympics.”
Jasprit Bumrah clinched the Cricketer of the Year (male) and Smriti Mandhana got the corresponding award in the female category.

Sunil Chhetri won the Footballer of the Year in the men’s section, while Manisha Kalyan bagged the award in the women’s section.
The Hockey Player of the Year (male and female) went to PR Sreejesh and Savita Punia. The Wrestler of the Year (male and female) was given to Ravi Dahiya and Anshu Malik.

The Boxer of the Year (male and female) was accorded to Akash Kumar and Lovlina Borgohain. The Weightlifter of the Year (male and female) was presented to Achinta Sheuli and Mirabai Chanu.
A jury panel comprising former hockey player Sandeep Singh, Olympic bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh, shooter Gagan Narang, long jumper Anju Bobby George, Paralympian Deepa Malik and former cricketer Madan Lal chose the winners.