Bangalore: After several rounds of intense selection processes to pick 21 athletes from among more than 150 applicants, GoSports Foundation has announced the winners of PACE Scholarships in seven categories: Table Tennis, Badminton, Sailing, Swimming, other Olympic sports and Paralympic disciplines. These Scholarships have been instituted to support the Olympic aspirations of the next generation of Indian sporting stars aged between 13 and 21.
The list of 21 winners was drawn after a rigorous selection process that included physical assessments conducted by some of the best fitness experts. This was followed by skills assessment specific to each sport, personality assessment tests and personal interviews conducted by a panel of experts that included sports fitness expert Shayamal Vallabhjee, sports psychologist Bhishmaraj Bam, sports Lawyer and Managing Trustee of GoSports Foundation Nandan Kamath, and Trustee of GoSports Foundation Abhishek Laxminarayan.
The winners of the PACE Scholarships for Badminton are: H S Prannoy, Sameer Verma and Shikha Rajesh Gautam. The winners of the swimming scholarships are Gagan A P Ullalmath, Supriya Mondal and Mohammed Yaqoob Saleem, while Sharmada Balu, Nikshep B R and Suraj Prabodh have won the tennis Scholarships. Harmeet Desai, Soumyajit Ghosh and G Sathiyan were awarded the table tennis scholarships, while K C Ganapathy, Aishwarya Chezhiyan and Varsha Gautham were awarded the Scholarships for sailing. Ashish Kumar (Gymnastics), Rani Rampal (Women’s Hockey), Kidambi Srikanth (Badminton), PC Thulasi (Badminton) are the scholars who were awarded the scholarship under the other Olympic sports category, while Sharath Gayakwad (Swimming) and Rajni Jha (Swimming) are the athletes who have received the PACE Scholarships in the Paralympic disciplines category.
The PACE Scholarships for table tennis are sponsored by the Nandi Housing while Inlaks Foundation is sponsoring the PACE Scholarships for Badminton. Tandem Allied Services has sponsored the PACE Swimming Scholarships and Syed Ahmed Memorial Charitable has sponsored the PACE Scholarships for Paralympic sportspersons.
Speaking about the PACE Scholarships, sports scientist Shayamal Vallabhjee who was part of the selection process said, “I am very proud to be backing this process because I believe that sport can change the moral fibre of the nation and organisations such as the GoSports Foundation and the PACE Scholarship programmes can act as catalysts for this change.”
Sports psychologist and member of the PACE Scholarships panel of experts, Bhishmaraj Bam, opined, “The PACE Scholarship is a brilliant concept and the best part about it is the stringent selection process. It is very important to establish relationships with the athletes and make them part of the team. Their aspirations need to be clear and high commitment leads to good results. With PACE Scholarships, the athletes will get access to the best knowledge, training and experts. This will go a long way in improving the standards of sport itself.”
Elaborating on the rigorous selection process that has been praised by experts, Managing Trustee of GoSports Foundation, Nandan Kamath said, “We have given every applicant a chance to display their talents before we selected the winners. While each one of our short-listed candidates had their own strengths, and have excelled in their individual sport, we have had to choose the 21 athletes based on merit and need being a significant factor.”