Sushil adds one more to his tally
The who's who of India's sports fraternity was present under one roof to acknowledge the contribution of those who did the country proud in their respective fields. Our correspondent Harish Kotian too was there at the second Sahara India Sports Awards function in Mumbai.
Sportsman of the Year: Sushil Kumar
The World champion wrestler hails from Haryana, and started wrestling at the age of 14. He had the privilege of being the last baton bearer and handing the Queen Baton's to Prince Charles at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Sushil, who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is the first Indian to win a gold medal in the 66-kg freestyle-wrestling event at the 2010 World Wrestling Championships.
He first tasted success at the World Cadet Games in 1998, where he won the gold medal, and followed it up by another triumph in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in 2000.
Sushil then claimed bronze at the Asian Wrestling Championships in 2003, followed by gold medals at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships in 2005 and 2007.
The World champion was conferred the Arjuna award in 2006, and the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna last year.
Image: Virender Sehwag, Sushil Kumar, Harbhajan SIngh attend the Sahara India Sports Award
Magnificent Mary gets her due
MC Mary Kom was a deserved winner of the Sportswoman of the Year award. The Manipuri boxer won her fifth consecutive World championship in Barbados last month.
The 27-year-old was an athlete before switching to boxing. She was inspired by fellow-Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh's success and now has inspired several girls from the state to take up the sport.
Mary Kom has also won a gold medal at the second Asian women's Championship in Hissar and at the third edition of the event in Taiwan. She was the gold medal winner at the 7th East Indian Women's Boxing Championship in West Bengal and won five national championships till 2005.
Image: VVS Laxman hands Mary Kom the Sportswoman of the Year trophy
Sitting pretty at the top
Cricketer of the Year (Male): Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar seems to be enjoying the best spell of his 20-year international career.
Recently he scored a double century against Australia to lead the hosts to a 2-0 whitewash in the two-Test series.
He claimed the top spot in the ICC Test rankings and was honoured with the ICC Cricketer of the Year award.
In 2010, Tendulkar is proving unstoppable with the bat, with a tally of 1270 runs in nine Tests and six centuries, inclusive of two doubles.
In February, he created history with the first ever double century in the history of One-Day Internationals, against South Africa in Gwalior.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar receives the trophy from Sourav Ganguly
Best female cricketer
Cricketer of the Year (Female): Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj took up the sport at a tender age of 10 and in three years she decided to take up cricket professionally.
It was no surprise that Mithali was picked for the Indian team aged 17. And she repaid the selectors' faith immediately with a match-winning century on her ODI debut against Ireland in 1999.
A year later, the right-hander again made headlines when she scored a double century in a Test in England at Taunton in 2002.
As captain too, Mithali enjoyed considerate success, leading India to the final of the 2005 World Cup, followed by India's fourth successive Asia Cup title in 2008.
Image: Sania Mirza at the Sahara India function
Team of the Year: Davis Cup
The Indian Davis Cup team, which fought back from the dead to beat Brazil 3-2 in the World Group play-off tie, was named the Team of the Year.
They were trailing 0-2 on the first day before Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi inspired the comeback with victory in the doubles. Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna held their nerve on the final day to give India a historic victory.
The Indian team, comprising Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhambri, Paes and Bhupathi, beat stiff competition from the Indian cricket team, who scaled the No 1 ranking in Test cricket and second place in ODIs.
The Indian team had earlier beaten South Africa 4-1 in September 2009 to qualify for the World Elite Group after 11 years.
Image: Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes
Memorable moment of the year: Vishwanathan Anand
Indian chess ace Viswanathan Anand was bestowed the Memorable Moment of the Year award for successfully defending his World Chess Championship title in May.
The Indian Grandmaster beat Veselin Topalov 6.5-5.5 in the 12-game tournament to retain the title he won in 2008.
The Spain-based Indian had a fair share of excitement in the build-up to his title defence with the volcanic ash across Europe forcing him to undertake a 40-hour journey by road to get to Sofia.
Anand held the FIDE World Chess Championship from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the world title was split.
The 40-year-old became the undisputed World champion in 2007 and defended his title against Russian Vladimir Kramnik in 2008, thereby becoming the first player in chess history to have won the world title in three different formats: knockout, tournament, and match.
Image: Vishwanathan Anand
A superb coach
Coach of the Year: Yashvir Singh
His ward Sushil Kumar won the Sportsman of the Year award and it was not a surprise when Yashvir Singh got the Coach of the Year honour.
His contribution in turning Sushil into a world class athlete was recognized even by the International Wrestling Federation, who also named him Coach of the Year.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan with Indian hockey captain Rajpal Singh and Sandeep Singh
'Black Diamond' shines
Unsung Hero Award: SHH Hamid and Manohar Topno
The most outstanding award of the evening went to the legendary sports duo of SHH Hamid and Manohar Topno -- they were honoured with the Unsung Hero Award.
Former footballer Hamid, a member of the 1960 Olympic football team, received a cheque of Rs 5 lakh from Rahul Dravid and Leander Paes.
Hockey legend Topno, also known as 'Black Diamond', was an ace defender in his playing days.
Topno, who relived his troubled days after giving up hockey, including living in a roofless house, was moved by the gesture.
Known for his magic with the hockey stick, he was a member of the Indian team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He is at present nurturing hockey talent in Jharkhand.
Both Hamid and Topno received a standing ovation from the gathering at the MMDRA ground. The veterans spoke about how their contributions were ignored by the administrators and thanked the Sahara Group for felicitating them.
Image: SHH Hamid recieves a Rs 5 lakh cheque from Sahara's Subrata Roy
Legend in his own right
Legendary Honor: Gurbachan Singh Randhawa
The Legendary Honour award went to India's legendary athlete Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, who made it to the final of the 100 metres hurdles at the 1964 Olympics Games in Tokyo.
He is a former athlete who won a gold medal at the 1962 Asian Games in decathlon. He was honored with Arjuna award in 1961 and Padma Shri in 2005.
Image: Cricketers perform during the Sahara India function
Narang, Kumari hit the bull's eye
Outstanding performance at CWG 2010: Gagan Narang and Deepika Kumari
Ace shooter Gagan Narang, who four gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, received the Outstanding Performance at CWG award.
In the women's section, 16-year-old archer Deepika Kumari was honoured with the outstanding performance of the CWG award for her gold medal at the Games.
Image: Deepika Kumari recieves award
New stars on the horizon
Best Young Achiever (Male): Asher Noria
Young shooter Asher Noria was named the Best Young Achiever (Male) for his exploits on the shooting ranges.
He along with Ranjan Sodhi won the silver medal in the men's double trap at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The World junior champion won the gold medal in the double trap event at the International Shooting Junior World Cup in Germany in May.
He is the only shooter to have won the double trap event at the International Shooting Junior World Championship for two years in a row in 2009 and 2010.
The 17-year-old also won the gold medal at the 2008 Singapore Open and the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Noria's six-year career has seen him amass an impressive tally of 23 gold, 22 silver and 12 bronze medals in addition to 11 trophies and awards.
Image: Asher Noria
India's 11th woman Grandmaster
Best Young Achiever (Female): Soumya Swaminathan
Soumya Swaminathan won the World Junior Girls chess title in Argentina in November last year following her victory over Kubra Ozturk of Turkey.
She scripted history by becoming only the fifth Indian to win World chess title.
India's 11th woman Grandmaster Soumya started playing chess at an early age of eight and has already won the National Junior Girls title.
Image: Soumya Swaminathan
Suronjoy joins the list of impressive boxers
Outstanding Performance of the Year:
Billiards ace Pankaj Advani was honoured with the Outstanding Performance of the Year award for his victory in the 2009 World Professional Billiards Championship in September last year.
Boxer Suranjoy Singh gave India's its first Asian Championship gold in 15 years with a victory over Li Chao of China in the final in June last year.
Suranjoy, also known as 'Little Tyson', won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Boxing Championships in March this year followed it with another gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Achanta Sharath Kamal won the US Open table tennis men's championships in July, beating defending champion Thomas Keinath of Slovakia 4-3 in a thrilling final. He also won the 2010 Egypt Open to become the first Indian to win the singles title on the ITTF pro tour and then captained the India to win the team title at the Egypt Open.
Om Prakash Singh won the gold medal for India in the men's shot put event in China last year and then won another gold at the Savo Games in Finland. He is the third Indian to break the 20-metres mark in the event.
Image: Suronjoy receives the award for Outstanding Performance of the Year