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Jerlin Anika is the First Woman Deaflympian to win Arjuna Award

Jerlin Anika becomes the first badminton player of Tamilnadu and first Woman Deaflympian to receive the prestigious Arjuna Award.

Jerlin Anika became a national champion at the 2017 badminton championship in Hyderabad and her performance helped her to qualify for the Summer Deaflympics in the same year. She is the youngest player to represent India in Summer Deaflympics at the age of 13 and contested in the women's singles and women's doubles events 2017 edition summer Deaflympics. She along with Prithvi Sekhar became the first set of athletes from Tamil Nadu to compete at Deaflympics.

Jerlin clinched three gold medals at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics in the mixed doubles, team event and women's singles events.

She competed at the 2018 Asia Pacific Deaf Badminton Championships which was held in Malaysia where she secured two silver medals and a bronze. At the 5th Asia Pacific Deaf Badminton Championships, she clinched the bronze medal in the senior category in the women's doubles and silver medals in singles and doubles events in U-21 girls category.

She won gold medal at the age of 15 in the girls' singles final during the 2019 World Deaf Youth Badminton Championships which was held in Taipei. She defeated Germany's Finja Rosendahl in straight sets to become a youth deaf world champion. In addition to the gold medal feat, she also secured silver medals in girls' doubles and mixed doubles events during the second edition of the World Deaf Youth Badminton Championships in 2019.

She represented India at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics which marked her second appearance at the Deaflympics. She clinched three gold medals at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics in the mixed doubles, team event and women's singles events.

Jerlin’s badminton journey began when she was all of eight and would accompany her father to the court, where he played with his friends. But it wasn’t easy picking up the game.

“She does lip-reading, but that's limited to simple conversations. It was only after she started playing badminton professionally and travelling for international events that she began picking up sign language. Initially, she didn’t know the rules of the game and couldn’t calculate the points; she lost several matches because of that. So, her coach, T Saravanan, started drawing diagrams on a slate to teach her everything there is to know about the sport. Now, she remembers hers as well as her opponent’s points during a match. She’s also been receiving great support from her coach in Delhi, Sonu Sharma.”, said her father Jayaratchagan.

The selection committee headed by Justice (retd) AM Khanwilkar has recommended the following Arjuna Awards of the year. Six athletes from badminton are adjudged to receive the award.

Lakshya Sen (badminton),

HS Prannoy (badminton),

Manashi Joshi (para badminton), Tarun Dhillon (para badminton), Swapnil Patil (para swimming),

Jerlin Anika J (deaf badminton)

Athletes from other sports are,

Seema Punia (athletics),

Eldhose Paul (athletics),

Avinash Sable (athletics),

Amit Panghal (boxing),

Nikhat Zareen (boxing),

Bhakti Kulkarni (chess),

R Praggnanandha (chess),

Deep Grace Ekka (hockey),

Shushila Devi (judo),

Sakshi Kumari (kabaddi),

Nayan Moni Saikia (lawn bowls),

Sagar Ovhalkar (mallakhamb),

Elavenil Valarivan (shooting),

Om Prakash Mitharval (shooting), Sreeja Akula (table tennis),

Vikas Thakur (weightlifting),

Anshu Malik (wrestling),

Sarita Mor (wrestling), and

Parveen (wushu).

As per the latest enhancement, the Khel Ratna award carries a cash purse of Rs 25 lakh, Arjuna award Rs 15 lakh, Dronacharya awards Rs 10 lakh for regular, and Rs 15 lakh for life-time achievement.

Usually, the sports awards are presented by the President on National Sports Day, August 29, the birthday of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand. However, exceptions are made for the years which feature the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

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