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I feel overwhelmed: Ankita Raina on winning the Arjuna Award – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism | Breaking News J&K

NEW DELHI, Nov 14: Ankita Raina, India’s top-ranked women’s tennis player, is on cloud nine. The Amdavadi athlete, who received the prestigious Arjuna Award on Saturday from President Ram Nath Kovind, tells us, “I don’t have words to express my joy and I feel overwhelmed. When I received the award from the President, I just realised that very few people in our country get such recognition and it feels good when years of hard work ensure such proud moments for me and my parents. Winning this prestigious award is a huge honour and thankfully, I could attend the ceremony too. This will give me extra motivation to win more laurels for India. Also, I hope that this award will motivate more youngsters to take up sports and represent India. My coach Hemant Bendrey also told me that I should be proud of this achievement and while talking to him on a video call, I could see the joy on his face.
‘I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of this journey’
This would not have been possible without the constant support of my family, coaches, employer and sponsors. So, I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of this journey. Tennis is an expensive sport and results don’t come overnight. One has to keep at it and work extremely hard every single day. So, when an athlete receives such prestigious awards, it gives him/her that additional boost which is extremely important. I am also thankful to SAI (Sports Authority of India), SAG (Sports Authority of Gujarat), the Gujarat government and our union sports ministry for their continuous support. SAG has been supporting me for nine years and amid the pandemic, the authorities have really gone out of their way to make players feel comfortable. Due to the ongoing pandemic, travelling for tournaments has been an extremely stressful experience and apart from taking care of financial requirements, they have helped out with visa, vaccination and all other travel related formalities.
‘2021 has been a year of achievements and milestones’
Be it playing at different WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) events and winning trophies, participating in Grand Slams or partnering Sania Mirza in doubles at the Tokyo Olympics, 2021 has been a year of achievements and memorable milestones for me. Of course, it’s not easy being a part of bio-bubbles for months. While playing different tournaments, I could see everyone around feeling fatigued mentally. While being fully vaccinated has relaxed some of the protocols, things are still difficult. When you have to play back-to-back tournaments, you have to get tested for COVID-19 every two or three days. Also, once the tournament gets over, you can’t fly back to India immediately even if you want to because you have to get tested again. Also, there are fewer international flights now, which has increased the travel cost and led to longer flying hours. Last year, I was out of India for five months and even after the Olympics, when all the other athletes returned to India and were felicitated by the Prime Minister, tennis players couldn’t do that as we had to fly to the USA. It wasn’t easy to be away from the family during the second wave of COVID-19. But overall, I have no complaints and since I stay away from home for such long periods, my mom really pampers me when I am home. I tell her about what I want to eat even before I reach home and my wish always gets fulfilled (smiles). (Agencies)

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