The glittering ceremony saw a galaxy come together to celebrate and honor last year’s elite sports achievements, and those in attendance at the function included hockey fanatics Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh and Dilip Tirkey, wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat and boxer MC Mary Kom.
TOISA 2021: AS IT HAPPENED
Chopra’s historic Olympic gold in the men’s javelin throw at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics in 2021 had no equal when it came to being named the ‘Athlete of the Year’, in addition to being awarded the ‘Athlete of the Year’ award in the category gentlemen. It was the first track and field medal an Indian won since independence.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to former Indian captain and spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, who played Test cricket for India from 1966 to 1979. He played a total of 67 Tests and took 266 wickets.
For his silver medal at the 2021 World Championships, shuttler Kidambi Srikanth won the TOISA for Men’s Badminton Player of the Year, while PV Sindhu’s bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics earned her another TOISA in the women’s category. Sindhu’s second Olympic medal made her the first woman from India to be on the Olympic podium twice.
The who’s who under the 2021 TOISA jury included the winner of the 1983 Cricket World Cup Madan LalicWorld Championships in Athletics medalist Anju Bobby George, Olympic medalist shooter Gagan Narang, India’s first Olympic men’s boxing medalist Vijender Singhthe first Indian woman to win a Paralympic medal, Deepa Malik and former captain of the Indian men’s hockey team Sandeep Singhwho is also the current Minister of Sport of Haryana.
Jasprit Bumrah, the fast bowling spearhead of the Indian cricket team, was named Men’s Cricketer of the Year. Smriti Mandhana, the opening batsmen of India’s women’s cricket team, won the TOISA among the female cricketers nominated for the award.
The two ‘Walls’ of the Indian hockey teams, goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Savita Punic, were named ‘Hockey Players of the Year’ in the men’s and women’s category, respectively. The two played a stellar part in the Indian campaign for the Tokyo Olympics, where the men’s team returned to the Games podium with a bronze medal, while the Indian women’s team achieved its best Olympic finish by finishing fourth.
To end the 41-year wait to see Indian hockey back on the Olympic podium, the captain Manpreet Singh-led men’s hockey team was awarded the TOISA for ‘Team of the Year’.
Saurabh Chaudhary was named ‘Shooter of the Year’. He was the only archer from the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics to qualify for the men’s 10-meter air pistol final. In addition, he also won five medals at ISSF World Cups held in 2021.
The other couples who won the TOISA for their individual achievements in different sports were archers Atanu Das (male) and Jyoti Surekha Vennam, boxers Akash Kumar (male) and Lovlina Borgohain (female), football players Sunil Chhetric (masculine) and Manish Kalyan (female), wrestlers Ravi Dahiya (male) and Anshu Malik (female), and weightlifters Achinta Sheuli (male) and Mirabai Chanu (female).
Among the aforementioned famous names, boxer Lovlina and hitchhiker Mirabai led the Indian women’s power at the Tokyo Olympics by winning a bronze and a silver medal respectively. Ravi Dahiya’s reputation as the next big thing in Indian wrestling turned into a silver medal in the Olympics.
Indian football icon Sunil Chhetri won without a doubt the TOISA for Male Footballer of the Year, making him the third highest international goalscorer among active players, putting him in elite company with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Atanu Das’ individual and mixed team gold medals at the 2021 Archery World Cup earned him the TOISA among male archers, while Jyothi Surekha Vennam’s triple silver medal at the World Archery Championships saw her outdo the other nominees in the female category.
The TOISA for the ‘Coach of the Year’ was jointly awarded to India’s weightlifting coach Vijay Sharma, who has played a key role in making Mirabai a world beater on every international stage. Boxing coach Sandhya Gurung, who is credited with Lovlina’s rise to an Olympic medalist, shared the award with Sharma.
Achanta Sharath Kamal won the TOISA for ‘Table Tennis Player of the Year’. He won two bronze medals at the Asian Championships in the men’s team and men’s doubles, in addition to his combat run at the Tokyo Olympics, which took him to the third round in the men’s individual event.
Teenage chess grandmaster Arjun Erigaisi was named ‘Chess Player of the Year’ in 2021 for his run, which included winning the Tata Steel Indian Chess Tournament in the Rapid section.
In para sports, the list was topped by shooter Avani Lekhara, who was named both the ‘Para-Athlete of the Year’ and the ‘Para-Shooter of the Year’. Her gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games made her the first woman from India to top the podium at the Games.
Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar were jointly named ‘Para-Badminton Players of the Year’ for their individual gold medal-winning performance at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. Para javelin thrower Sumit Antil, who also won a gold medal at the Tokyo Games, won the TOISA for ‘Para-Athlete of the Year’. Bhavinaben Patel was named ‘Para-Table Tennis Player of the Year’ for her silver medal in Tokyo.
Here is the full list of prize winners for TOISA 2021:
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Neeraj Chopra
TEAM OF THE YEAR: Indian Men’s Hockey Team
COACH OF THE YEAR: Vijay Sharma/Sandhya Gurung
SAGITTARIUS OF THE YEAR (Male): Atanu Das
SAGITTARIUS OF THE YEAR (Female): Jyoti Surekha Vennam
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Male): Neeraj Chopra
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Woman): Annu Rani
BADMINTON PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Man): Kidambi Srikanth
BADMINTON PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Woman): PV Sindhu
BOXER OF THE YEAR (Male): Akash Kumaric
BOXER OF THE YEAR (Woman): Lovlina Borgohain
CHESS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Arjun Erigais
CRICKETER OF THE YEAR (Male): Jasper Bumrah
CRICKETER OF THE YEAR (Woman): Smriti Mandhana
FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR (Male): Sunil Chhetric
FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR (Woman): Manisha Kalyan
HOCKEY PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Male): PR Sreejesh
HOCKEY PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Woman): Savita Punic
SHOOTER OF THE YEAR (Male): Saurabh Chaudhary
TABLE TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Achanta Sharat Kamali
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR (Male): Ravi Dahiya
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR (Female): Anshu Malik
WEIGHT LIFTING OF THE YEAR (Male): Achinta Sheuli
WEIGHT LIFTING OF THE YEAR (Woman): Mirabai Chanu
PARA ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (Male): Sumit Antili
PARA BADMINTON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Krishna Nagar and Pramod Bhagati
PARA SHOOTER OF THE YEAR: Avani Lekhara
PARA TABLE TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bhavinaben Patel
PARA ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Avani Lekhara
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bishan Singh Bedic