It was a momentous occasion as Kerala sport celebrated the Olympic success of P. V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik in style at a felicitation function organised in the honour of the two sporting heroes here on Friday.
Organised jointly by the Kerala State Sports Council (KSSC) and the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs (DSYA) at the Cotton Hill Girls High School, the function on the whole stood out for the presence of several sporting icons from the State and a large number of school children and sports lovers.
In the absence of the Chief Minister, Pinaryi Vijayan and Sports Minister, E. P. Jayarajan, who pulled out at the last-minute, the cash awards and mementoes to Sindhu and Sakshi as well as their coaches Pullela Gopichand and Mandeep were distributed by the KSSC president, T. P. Dasan.
Sponsored by Dubai-based business magnate, Mukattu Sebastian, chairman, Mukkadan Group of Companies, Sindhu received a cheque of Rs. 50 lakh for her silver-medal winner effort in Rio-de-Janeiro, while Sakshi was presented Rs. 25 lakh for her bronze medal.
Likewise, Gopichand and Mandeep was also honoured with cheques of Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh respectively at the function presided over by the KTDC chairman and former Minister, M. Vijayakumar.
Sindhu, replying to felicitations, thanked the Kerala Government and the sports loving public of the State for the support and affection showered on her. Sakshi said she was overwhelmed by the love of the people of Kerala, even as the parents of the duo looked on proudly.
Gopichand, in his brief intervention, said medals were only part of sporting excellence. The true benefit of sport, he remarked, was in the building up of the nation and in the creation of a healthy and model society.
The Director (Sports), Sanjayakumar welcomed the gathering. Later as Sindhu and Sakshi stepped down from the podium, they were virtually mobbed by the children who sought autographs, get a handshake and photographs with the inspirational idols.