Bhubaneswar: International hockey player Namita Toppo has bagged the prestigious 28th Ekalabya Puraskar for the year 2020. The Ekalabya Puraskar Committee comprising of jury members drawn from different walks of life were unanimous in selecting Toppo for the prestigious award in a meeting held here on Sunday.

Namita Toppo, the mercurial Internatonial hockey player who has represented the nation in almost all international tournaments and have been credited with many wins for Women’s Hockey Team of India from 01st April 2018 to 31st March 2020, emerged as the clear winner this year. She will get a cash award of Rs.5 lakh along with a citation at the Ekalabya Praskar program to be held under the strict observation of Covid restrictions.

Besides Toppo, two other sportspersons will also be felicitated for their remarkable performances in various international & national level in their respective fields. They are; Inernational women weightlifter Sneha Soren and the international badminton player Rutaparna Panda. Both will receive a cash prize of Rs. 50,000/- each along with citations. The date for Ekalabya Praskar function will be announced later.

Ekalabya Puraskar, instituted by IMPaCT managed by IMFA, the leading ferro alloys producrer in the country, in the year 1993, has come a long way to be recognized as the most prestigious sports award of Odisha, drawing parallels with many national awards. A mere look at the career graph of many of the past awardees confirms that over the years, it has been a moral booster for the best sporting talents in the State. The award is given every year to young sportspersons of Odisha in recognition of their outstanding performance in the preceding two years.

Announcing the names of the award winners, Baijayant Panda, former MP (LS) and Trustee of IMPaCT said, “IMPaCT has been in continuous pursuit to recognize and foster excellence in sports and Literature besides contributing to the general welfare of the society at large. Ekalabya Puraskar is instituted to encourage and inspire young sports persons to perform at national and international arena.”