World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa was the only boxer recommended for this year’s Arjuna award, the country’s second highest sporting honour, by the selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) S K Agarwal and comprising cricketer Gautam Gambhir and shooter Anjali Bhagwat among others.
The 22-year-old, who lost in the opening round of the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has been picked for his fine performances in the past four years, which included two Asian Championships medals (a gold in 2013 and a bronze in 2015), besides the World Championships bronze.
His medal at the world event was only the third ever that India had won after Vijender Singh (2009) and Vikas Krishan (2011).
“I have been informed that my name has been recommended and I feel it’s a blessing. This award will motivate me for bigger goals in life. It is the second highest sporting honour in India and I am very blessed to have been considered worthy enough to be nominated,” Shiva told PTI from Rio de Janeiro.
Besides, the World Championships medal, Shiva had won a silver medal at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament in China this year to become the first boxer to qualify for the Rio Games. The Assam-lad has been a former junior World Championships silver-medallist besides being the Youth Olympics silver-medallist in 2010.
In 2012, he had become the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics as an 18-year-old. He had achieved this after winning a gold medal at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Last year, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Mandeep Jangra had been picked for this award.