Somdev Devvarman, one of the 14 members of the jury for the first ESPN India Awards, on his voting choices:
Honestly, all the ESPN awards categories were incredibly hard to pick as there's a ton of amazing athletes in each of them. However, I felt it was the toughest to make a choice in the Male Sportsperson of the Year category because every nominated athlete really deserved to win. Not picking any of them can be easily justified as an injustice, which puts us in a tricky, yet amazing situation as a whole for Indian sport.
That being said, I chose Kidambi Srikanth because he not only reached a world No 2 ranking but also won four Superseries titles in a single year, something that's only been accomplished by legends. I think what he achieved was a huge landmark for sport in our country. Just watching him gave me that feeling.
Among the female athletes, obviously it was PV Sindhu who's been in the limelight and deserves every bit of it. My vote for Coach of the Year went to Pullela Gopichand and Aizawl FC and their fairytale I-League run was the clear winner for both Team of the Year and Moment of the Year.
Any time you have awards of this magnitude, there are always tough decisions to be made. These awards should motivate athletes to work harder and keep more of them wanting to be recognized in some of the most exclusive sporting fraternities in the country, and also globally. When more young athletes strive for excellence, you can easily start building a culture around that.
Sport is ever evolving and we need to keep up with the times. If you look at the kind of coaching methods, infrastructure, systems, development strategies at various levels etc, that we had 30 years ago, you'll notice that we haven't really made a whole lot of progress. The same set of problems that I faced as a junior player that needed guidance and expertise still exist today. Our junior players should definitely be mentored and guided better.
As told to Susan Ninan
Somdev Devvarman: Davis Cupper, double gold medallist at the Asian Games in Guangzhou 2010 and gold medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, Devvarman played professional tennis for nine years, with a career-high singles ranking of 62. He is currently an entrepreneur-philanthropist working with underprivileged schoolchildren in Chennai.