KL Rahul won the male sportsperson of the year award, and BS Chandrasekhar was bestowed with the lifetime achievement honour at the annual Sports Writers’ Association of Bangalore awards in Bangalore on Sunday (December 4).
The function also had cricket presence in Javagal Srinath, the former India paceman who was the chief guest, and Sujith Somasundar, the former India and Karnataka opener who is now a renowned sports psychologist.
Chandrasekhar, whose legspin fetched him 242 wickets in 58 Tests between 1964 and 1979, not to speak of 1063 wickets in 246 first-class matches, said he was honoured. “It’s been a great pleasure for me to have been here for this wonderful function organised by SWAB,” he said. “I’m extremely thankful to them for having called me on this occasion. SWAB has been doing it for more than 35 years, and I feel it’s a good boost to all sportsmen. As I saw just now, all these youngsters who have got the award, it’ll definitely be a boost to them.”
For Rahul, the award was the result of a year in which he dispelled notions that he was a Test specialist once and for all, scoring centuries in all formats, including on One-Day International debut against Zimbabwe in Harare, and later, in his third Twenty20 International, against West Indies in Lauderhill, Florida.
He also impressed for Royal Challengers Bangalore in their journey to the IPL 2016 final, scoring 397 runs in 14 matches at an average of 44.11 and a strike-rate of 144.49.
Rahul hoped to continue the journey in the coming years. “Thank you for finding me worthy enough of this award,” he said. “It gives me immense satisfaction knowing that my hard work and performances over the year has been appreciated by you. You’re the guys who watched me as a skinny Mangalore boy who came in to play in Bangalore around 11. You have been a real part of my journey, we’ve become real friends over the years, on and off the field. The friendships over the years have developed, and I hope that continues in the years to come.
“I remember a couple of years ago, I had to come up here and pick up this award for Robin Uthappa. I said the next time I come here would be when you give me an award … so if that’s why you’ve given me the award, I’m okay with it,” he joked to cascades of laughter from the hall.
Srinath, who was both entertaining and insightful on stage, also had words of encouragement for Rahul. “Rahul Dravid Test cricket, Rahul Dravid ODIs, Rahul Dravid T20 … all put together is KL Rahul,” he said, tongue half in cheek, to loud applause. “Many, many congratulations, and a long, long way to go as well.”
He also recounted an interaction with Chandrasekhar in Hassan, when a young Srinath approached the veteran seeking advice on how to bowl outswingers. “Yen madathiya maadu, saaku. Bekadashtu (bowl whatever you can, that’s more than enough),” came the reply.
Bengaluru FC, who won two I-League titles and reached the finals of the AFC Cup in Doha last month, pipped Royal Challengers Bangalore to the award for team of the year, with Ashley Westwood, their former manager, being named coach of the year.
Aditi Ashok, the golfer who represented India at the Rio Olympics earlier this year and won amateur and professional tournaments over the year, won the best female sportsperson of the year award. The junior sportspersons of the year awards went to Archana Kamath, the table-tennis player, and Niranjan Mukundan, the para-swimmer.
List of winners:
Male Sportsperson of the Year: KL Rahul
Female Sportsperson of the Year: Aditi Ashok
Lifetime Achievement Award: BS Chandrasekhar
Team of the Year: Bengaluru FC
Coach of the Year: Ashley Westwood
Junior Sportsperson of the Year (Female): Archana Kamath
Junior Sportsperson of the Year (Male): Niranjan Mukundan
‘Behind the Scenes’ Award: Kishore Khurrana, Gopalakrishnan
Featured Association: United Karnataka Chess Association