Nagpur: It took 23 long years for any sportsperson from Nagpur to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award. India’s golden archer, Ojas Pravin Deotale, ended the drought when President Droupadi Murmu presented him with the rare honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi on Tuesday.
Arjuna Award is India’s second-highest athletic honour and is given to a sportsperson for good performance over four years, besides showing qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, and a sense of discipline.
In a span of just six months, after becoming the world champion, Ojas garnered the requisite points required for receiving the award.
Speaking to a local newspaper, the 21-year-old was at a loss for words. “I feel like living a dream. I have no words to express my happiness. These 6-7 months have changed my life. I have never thought of receiving the Arjuna Award. My coach said most people never win this award. So, the feeling is really special.”
Ojas’ parents, Pravin & Archana Deotale, elder brother Jatin, were with him in New Delhi. “Ojas has changed our life,” said Pravin.
The Durbar Hall reverberated with huge applause as Ojas walked the Red Carpet to receive the second most coveted sports award of the country after Dhyanchand Khel Ratna. Ojas’ name was announced first among the 26 athletes and para-athletes, immediately after the Dronacharya awards were given away by President Murmu. Immediately after receiving the award and citation, Ojas announced his plans to utilise the reward money. Not many are as benevolent as city international archer Ojas.
The compound world champion archer Ojas decided to ‘donate’ the reward money (Rs 15 lakh) for the development of kids of his locality who aim for greater height in the sports field. Ojas won three gold medals at the last Year’s Hangzhou Asian Games after conquering the world in August becoming the only Indian male compound archer to win a world championship. For his unparalleled achievement, Indian government conferred upon him the second highest award, the Arjuna Award to the city lad.
Speaking with local newspaper, after the award ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, Ojas announced that he would use the reward money for the development and betterment of sports and budding sportspersons of his locality. “It’s a huge honour to be conferred with the Arjuna Award. I am happy that I have made my country and my parents proud,” he said. Ojas received a citation, along with a trophy and Rs 15,00,000 at the hands of President Murmu. “I want to use this money for the kids of my locality. I don’t want them to suffer and leave playing and pursue their dreams. This money will be utilised for the development of sports infrastructure, diet of players, etc,” elaborated Ojas.