In a red-letter day for Indian Table Tennis, Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have been conferred the prestigious Arjuna Award for the year 2018.
The gala event held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was attended by a total of 20 athletes who excelled in their own respective sports this year. In Table Tennis, Manika Batra’s year leading up to the award is unprecedented. The female paddler from Delhi won four medals at the Commonwealth Games, amongst which was the first ever Gold Medal won by a female athlete in the category. In another record this year, Manika was also the first female paddler to win a medal at the Asian Games, when she won the Mixed doubles Bronze. To top it off, the CEAT UTT season 2 winner reached her highest ever world ranking of 56 this year, all worthy feats to merit her receiving the award. In a tweet sent out before receiving the award from President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Manika quoted, “As I go on to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award today I really want to thank everyone who has supported me all this while. I would continue to strive for the best and bring more glory for the nation.”
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran too has been a revelation this year. The Dabang Smashers’ captain helped India win a team gold at the Commonwealth Games and a team Bronze at the Asian games, with notable wins over traditional powerhouses in the latter competition. Sathiyan climbed up the world rankings to reach his highest ever ranking of 39, which has been in the making over the past two years. In what he described as a ‘dream come true’ moment, Sathiyan tweeted – “(It is a) Huge honour to receive the Prestigious ‘Arjuna Award’ from the Honorable President of India!!”
With this award, Manika and Sathiyan join fellow Arjuna Awardees Sharath Kamal, Mouma Das and Amalraj Anthony, with their best years still ahead of them.