Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: International Hockey defender Dipsan Tirkey received the prestigious Ekalabya Puraskar for 2017 at the 25th edition of the sports awards in presence of ace badminton player and coach P Gopichand, BJD MP Baijayant Panda and Odisha Sports Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera in Bhubaneswar today. Civil Defence director BK Sharma was also present on the occasion as guest of honour.

The award, instituted by IMFA’s charitable wing Indian Metals Public Charitable Trust (IMPaCT), is conferred upon young sportspersons of Odisha every year.

Tirkey received a cash award of Rs 5 lakh along with a citation for his outstanding contribution to sports. With a remarkable international and national track record, Tirkey had played a vital role in winning bronze for India in the recently concluded Hockey World League in Bhubaneswar. He was the vice-captain of the Indian junior hockey team, which had won the Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup in 2016.

Similarly, sprinter Amiya Mallick was felicitated with a citation and cash award of Rs 50,000. Hockey star Deep Grace Ekka, who was selected to be felicitated with a citation along with Mallick, could not attend the programme. Her brother Dinesh Ekka, a national level hockey player, received the citation on behalf of his sister.

Addressing the gathering, ace badminton star Gopichand said "A nation may not win an Olympics medal but that doesn't mean that we can't be the best. I am very happy that Odisha government is recognising sporting talents. Events like this have a great impact on sportspersons."

Explaining the aims and objectives of IMPaCT, MP Baijayant Panda encouraged young sports talents of Odisha and congratulated previous winners on the occasion.