Pune: Two sportsmen from the Bombay Sappers have been awarded the country’s highest sports awards in the recently announced National Sports Awards 2020. Naib Subedar Dattu Baban Bhokanal has been awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award for outstanding achievements in Rowing and Naib Subedar Lakha Singh (Retired) has been conferred with Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievements in Boxing.
Naib Subedar Dattu Bhokanal who belongs to Talegaon-Rohi of Nashik District in Maharashtra was enrolled in Bombay Sappers in April 2012 where his potential as a Rower was identified. Once inducted in the team Dattu never looked back and won numerous awards over the years.
His major achievements include two Gold Medals in National Games in 2014 and 2017, Silver Medal in Single Sculls in FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic Regatta which qualified him to participate in the Rio Olympics in 2016 where he secured 13th spot and Gold Medal in Quadruple Sculls at Asian Games Jakarta- Palembang 2018.
Naib Subedar Dattu Baban Bhokanal is presently in Army Rowing Node, Pune and is preparing to participate in the qualification trials for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled next year. The JCO is confident of his form and is likely to be selected for the Olympics.
Naib Subedar Lakha Singh who belongs to Ludhiana, Punjab was enrolled in the Bombay Sappers in Jan 1985 because of his boxing skills in sports quota. The skills of Lakha Singh as a boxer were further honed at Bombay Engineering Group and Centre, Khadki. The JCO never looked back since then and won numerous awards in Boxing for the next 12 years from 1986 to 1998.
Lakha won his first National Gold Medal in 1992 in the 81 kg weight category. He then went on to win another four national championships in the subsequent years. The Boxer to his credit has a Bronze Medal in 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, a Bronze in 1994 Asian Boxing Championships held in Tehran and a Silver in the same championship in Tashkent in the following year.
Naib Subedar Lakha Singh has also represented the country in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and made the Bombay Sappers proud. The JCO is retired and is staying in Ludhiana and has plans to fulfill his cherished dream of opening a Boxing Academy in Punjab for upcoming pugilists.