Nikhat Zareen after winning the gold medal in the 52-kg category in boxing. (Twitter)
Hyderabad: City girl Nikhat Zareen scripted history by winning gold at the World Boxing Championships last week. But, after her gold, only the fifth for an Indian at that level, the usual cash and other rewards from the state government were conspicuous by their absence. She returned to the city on Friday.
This was surprising as the state government was proactive in rewarding sportspersons when they made major achievements. Nikhat’s win was among the top accomplishments for Indian sport in recent years.
Nikhat’s father Jameel said that she had been playing in the senior division since 2015, but did not get any financial assistance from the government or others. However, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had released Rs 50 lakh in 2014 for Nikhat’s training.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Jameel said the family had shifted from Nizamabad to Hyderabad 10 years ago and was living in a rented house.
Nikhat is as an officer with Bank of India and her salary helped the family to survive in Hyderabad, he said.
Nizamabad MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha had recommended Group 1 officer post for Nikhat some time ago but the file is pending with the Chief Minister’s Office. "The Telangana government assured us of possible help," he said.
"We are hopeful that whatever incentives are given to the World champions would come to Nikhat too," he said.
Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav was at hand at the Shamshabad airport to receive Nikhan when she returned after her gold medal bout on Friday.
Notably, after badminton player P.V. Sindhu’s Olympic medal wins in 2016 and 2021, both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments had announced numerous rewards for her. After she won a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the AP government announced a cash reward of Rs 30 lakh for Sindhu. When she won silver in the 2016 Olympics, the Telangana government rewarded her with Rs 5 crore and the AP government announced a Rs 3 crore cash award as also a state government job.
Other athletes or coaches from the state like Sania Mirza and badminton coach Pullela Gopichand have been given numerous cash rewards.
However, Nikhat is in line to receive at least one reward — from former captain of AP’s Ranji team V. Chamundeswaranath. He has over the years rewarded sportspersons with posh cars and offered cash rewards after their major victories.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Chamundi, as he is known, said, "People do not know that I was the one who gave Nikhat Rs 10 lakh to go to Kyrgyzstan for coaching. I also gave her a battery scooter on which she could go for practice about a year ago."
He said Nikhat was expected at his residence for a dinner on May 30. When he meets her, he would give her a reward. "What the reward is, I will tell her when I meet her. Let it be a surprise," Chamundi said.