Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Ace woman sprinter of Odisha and Olympian Srabani Nanda was conferred with the 24th Ekalabya Puraskar in a glittering function here this evening.

Nanda received a cash award of Rs 5 lakh and a trophy from renowned sprinter and Olympian Milkha Singh who also felicitated two promising hockey players of Odisha Deep Grace Ekka and Dipsan Tirkey with a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and a citation each.

The award is instituted by Indian Metals Public Charitable Trust (IMPaCT), the charitable wing of the IMFA Group.

Thanking Milkha Singh and the distinguished guests present at the function, Srabani said the award is a great honour in recognition of her efforts and success which has made her state and the country proud.

Regretting that she could not win a medal in the recently concluded Rio Olympics, she said she would never give up and try her best to fulfil her long cherished dream of winning a medal in the next Olympics.

Srabani, who had participated in women’s 200-metre sprint event in the Rio Olympics, has won a gold medal in 200-metre sprint event and two silver medals in 100 and 4X100 metre relay race in the South Asian Games this year. Besides, she has won a silver medal in 4X100 metre relay race in Asian Grand Prix in Thailand in 2015.

The award, instituted since 1993, is conferred every year on young and outstanding sportspersons of Odisha.

Addressing the gathering, Milkha said it has been almost 60 years since his epic run in 400 metres final at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, but there is no other Milkha Singh born till date in this country with a population of nearly 120 crore.

“It is my last wish that before I leave this world, I will be happy to see that a young athlete of my country will bring laurels by winning the gold medal, which had I lost by a whisker and the national flag which I could not wave,” said the Flying Sikh.

He also said he will never forget Odisha, especially the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, where he had broken the Asian 400-metre track record way back in 1957.

Among others, chairman of IMPaCT Trust and MP, Baijayant Panda also spoke.

Ekalabya Jury member Maqbool Ali proposed the vote of thanks.

The welcome address was given by Ashok Behera, convener, Ekalabya Committee, while Ekalabya Jury member Maqbool Ali proposed the vote of thanks.

Senior IAS officer and secretary, Water Resources, Pradip Jena was also present at the award giving function.

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