Pradhan Mantri Bal Puraskar Award 2021: The seven awardees in sports category

32 children were recognized for their achievements in various disciplines, including seven in the field of sports

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

The Pradhan Mantri Bal Puraskar was awarded to 32 standout youngsters on January 26, 2021, India's 72nd Republic Day to recognize their potential and accomplishments in various fields such as - innovation, scholastics, sports, arts & culture, social service and bravery.

We look at the seven awardees in the field of sport:

Khushi Chirag Patel

Ahmedabad-based Khushi Chirag Patel was recognized for her achievement in artistic roller skating.

This year, she represented India at the artistic skating world championship held in France. At 14, she was the youngest participant in the under-19 age group where she was ranked fourth.

She has bagged numerous medals at district and national championships besides representing the nation at international events. Patel participated at the 17th Asian Roller Skating Championships and bagged three medals at the international level (Cadet Group). She started skating at a tender age of 4 and has also won the Sardar Patel Junior Award and Jaydeep Singh Junior Award.

Kaamya Karthikeyan

Kaamya Karthikeyan, a class 8 student at Mumbai's Navy Children School, is the youngest to scale Mount Aconcagua, Argentina.

The daughter of Commander S Karthikeyan, Kaamya is currently on a mission named "Saras". The teen mountaineer aspires to complete the Explorers Grand Slam: an adventurer who reaches the North Pole, South Pole and the Seven Summits (Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Puncak Jaya, Mount Elbrus)

The enthusiastic wonderkid has thus far scaled the highest peaks in Africa, Europe, Australia and South America besides setting the world record for being the youngest to climb Mount Stok Kangri in August 2017.

She is also the youngest to ski from the summit of Mount Elbrus, Russia.

Mantra Jitendra Harkhani

Mantra Jitendra Harkhani, a 17-year-old boy from Rajkot, has Down Syndrome but it has not stopped him from achieving his dreams. He bagged a gold medal in swimming at the Special Olympics, Abu Dhabi, in 2019.

Mantra took to swimming at the age of four and since then has bagged top podium finish in 50 meter freestyle and 50 meter backstroke events in Special Olympics.

Arshiya Das

The 10-year-old chess prodigy is from Tripura. She was the only gold medallist for India at the Asian School Chess Championship in Uzbekistan in 2019.

She is the first from her family to take up the sport. Her father Purnendu Das is a Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) employee while her mother Arnisha Nath Das is a homemaker.

She took to the sport after coming across a chess board in a shopping mall. Before that, she used to practice chess on her computer. Her maiden national championship appearance came at the age of 6 and she aspires to be a female grandmaster. Indian chess legend Viswanathan Anand is her role model.

Savita Kumari

Savita Kumari, 16, hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand and was recognized for her achievement in national and international archery competitions. She is the student of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Sonhatu and bagged a gold medal in the South Asian Archery competition in 2018 (senior category).

She found interest in archery after attending a demo show performed by Birsa Munda Archery Academy, Silli in 2014. She trains at the same academy after earning her place at it through a skill test. Her father is a security guard and encourages her to stay dedicated to the sport.

Palak Sharma

Palak Sharma, a 12-year-old diver based in Indore, dreams of representing the nation at the Olympics.

She developed keen interest in swimming at the age of 8 and has bagged a gold medal in 2019 Asian Age Group diving championship. She has also represented her state in six national tournaments and bagged 12 gold and four silver medals.

Her practice was affected due to the COVID-19 situation. But when local district collector Manish Singh was informed about the same, he directed the officials to start a nearby swimming pool in the locality so that she can resume training.

Mohammed Rafey

The 17-year-old gymnast from Uttar Pradesh secured a bronze medal for India in the floor exercise category at the Junior Asian Cup, held in Mongolia in 2019.

Rafey was encouraged to take up the sport by his brother.

He is a five-time national champion in his age group. He has also won three gold medals and one silver medal at the Khelo India Youth Games 2019 in the men's under-17 all-round artistic gymnastics event