Indian women’s hockey star Namita Toppo Honoured With Eklabya Puraskar

Toppo was honoured with the 28th Eklabya Puraskar for her outstanding contribution to women’s hockey at the international and national level

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Odisha-based Namita Toppo, a member of the Indian women's hockey team which clinched the silver medal at 2018 Asian Games, was honoured with the Eklabya Puraskar.

Toppo was honoured with the 28th Eklabya Puraskar on Sunday for her outstanding contribution to women’s hockey at the international and national level.

As a part of the award, Toppo also received a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh along with a citation, at a low-key ceremony in Bhubaneswar organized under strict Covid-19 guidelines.

The 25-year-old was unanimously selected for the award, based on her performance between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2020, by the Ekalabya Award committee comprising jury members from different sectors.

Toppo is a midfielder in the Indian women's team. She broke into the national team in 2012 at the FIH Champions Challenge in Dublin and was also felicitated with Asuntra Lakra Award for the upcoming player of the year Award in 2014 by Hockey India.

Toppo, memorably, played a crucial role in India’s win over USA in an FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar in 2019. A 6-5 aggregate triumph meant that the Indian eves qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

“It is the biggest honour for me to have won the Ekalabya Puraskar 2020. As a member of the Indian Women's Hockey team, it gives me great joy, and makes me proud of the whole team, because it is due to them that I have been able to perform well in the past year, especially after returning from a big injury,” she said in a Hockey India release.

Weightlifter Sneha Soren and rising Indian badminton player Rutaparna Panda were also felicitated with a cash cheque of Rs 50,000 each for their exceptional contribution to their respective fields.

Soren bagged a gold medal in weightlifting at the Commonwealth Games in 2017. The weightlifter from Mayurbhanj district also bagged bronze and gold medals at the Asian Commonwealth Games and South Asian Games in 2019 and 2020 respectively. She also stood fifth in the Youth Olympics in 2017.

Panda, on the other hand, was a part of the 2018 Asian Games. She has two runners-up and as many winner's titles in the women's doubles category of the BWF International Challenge/Series.

Baijayant Panda, former MP (Lok Sabha) and Trustee of IMPaCT, the foundation that has instituted the award, greeted the awardees and wished them great success in their respective fields, through a virtual conference.

Ekalabya Award was instituted in 1993 and has emerged as one of the most prestigious sports honors in the country.