2020 recap: The big talking points of Odisha Sports

Bhubaneswar: At a time when coronavirus brought the world to its knees in 2020, the sportsmanship spirit of the Odisha government and its players drew everyone’s attention. Even though the State’s economy remained subdued due to the pandemic and the state exchequer was cash-starved, the government did not shy to announce big-ticket decisions to promote sports. One of them is to construct the country’s largest hockey stadium in Rourkela.

Also, Odisha’s players made it proud by proving their worth and winning prestigious awards at the national level.

We take you through some of the significant moves of the State and key achievements of its players in 2020.

1. INDIA’S LARGEST HOCKEY STADIUM TO BE CONSTRUCTED IN ROURKELA

As per Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s announcement, India’s largest hockey stadium will be constructed in Rourkela soon. It, along with Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium, will host the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2023.

The stadium will be constructed over a 15 acres land on the Biju Patnaik University of Technology here and have total 20,000 seating capacity along with allied facilities.

Earlier, a high-level team including senior officials from the State Government, International Federation of Hockey (FIH), Department of Sports and Youth Services and Hockey India visited Rourkela and reviewed the infrastructure and allied facilities in the city to host the prestigious and much awaited hockey event.

2. ODISHA TO SPONSOR INDIAN NATIONAL RUGBY TEAM FOR NEXT THREE YEARS

The Odisha Government and Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) signed an agreement to sponsor the Indian national rugby teams for the next three years till 2023 and facilitate high performance training and conditioning of the players.

Director-cum-Additional Secretary, Odisha, R Vineel Krishna and President , IRFU, Maneck Unwala signed the agreement in presence of Minister of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha, Tusharkanti Behera; Secretary Sports, Vishal K Dev; CEO, IRFU, Naseer Hussain and actor, director and former Rugby International player, Rahul Bose; IRFU Board Member and Head of Odisha Rugby, UK Mohanty and senior officials of Sports and Youth Services Department at the Kalinga Stadium.

The sponsorship will be extended towards training, conditioning and incentivising the Indian national rugby teams (men & women) participating in international rugby events.

3. DUTEE CHAND CONFERRED WITH ARJUNA AWARD

On the occasion of National Sports Day on August 29, Odisha’s ace sprinter and India’s fastest woman Dutee Chand was conferred with the Arjuna Award for the year 2020. She was laurelled by President Ram Nath Kovind over a video conferencing programme.

Dutee was among 27 other sportspersons who were selected for the sports honour of the Republic of India. Having received the award, she became the ninth Arjuna awardee from Odisha.

After being nominated for the Arjuna Awards, the 24-year-old silver medallist from 2018 Asian Games had said that it happened in the right time as that would motivate her to breach the ‘difficult’ Olympic qualification mark. I hope to qualify for my second Olympics in Tokyo next year and do my best there,” she added.

4. CHRIS MORRIS DONNED JERSEY WITH ODISHA MOUNTANEER NILACHALA PARIDA’S NAME

South African cricketer and RCB player Chris Morris on September 21 honoured Odisha mountaineer and Covid warrior Nilachala Parida by wearing a jersey with the latter’s name printed on it as he stepped into the stadium for the RCB vs Sunrisers Hyderabad match in IPL 2020.

Morris addressed Parida as a ‘Covid Hero’ after he came to know that the 24-year old mountaineer had set up a vegetable shack near Delta Square in Bhubaneswar during the lockdown and provided free home delivery services to senior citizens. It was Parida’s efforts to support his own family and raise money for Government’s Covid relief funds during the ongoing testing times.

As a mark of respect for Parida’s work, Morris temporarily renamed his Twitter profile ‘Nilachala Parida’.

5. HOCKEY PLAYER NAMITA TOPPO ADJUDGED ‘EKALABYA PURASKAR’

India’s women hockey star Namita toppo on December 27 was conferred the ‘Ekalabya Puraskar’ for her contribution to the national game of India. She was awarded a trophy along with a citation and cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.

Toppo, a midfielder in the team, is from Odisha’s Sundergarh district. The Panposh Sports Hostel prodigy was honoured for her performance on field between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2020 both at national and international levels.

This apart, International Weightlifter Snhea Soren and Badminton player Rutaparna Panda were also adjudged the awards along with Rs 50,000 cash prize, each.

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