Once the youngest ever chess Grandmaster at the age of 15, Humpy bagged the award after receiving the highest number of votes from the fans.
A 40-member jury had nominated Humpy, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, sprinter Dutee Chand, shooter Manu Bhaker and hockey skipper Rani Rampal for this year’s honour, last month.
“This award is very precious, not only to me but to the entire chess fraternity. Being an indoor game, chess doesn’t get as much attention as sports like cricket in India. But with this award, I hope, the game will draw people’s attention,” Humpy, the Cairns Cup holder, was quoted as saying in a BBC release.
“I could win over the years because of my willpower and confidence. A female player should never think about quitting her game. Marriage and motherhood are just a part of our life and they should not change the course of our lives,” added the 33-year-old, who is now mother of of a four-year-old daughter.
BBC Director General, Tim Davie hosted the virtual awards ceremony and announced the winner. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award went to the veteran athlete, Anju Bobby George, the only Indian athlete to have won a world championship medal in long jump in 2003.
“I have been blessed throughout my fulfilling journey. Without the constant support of my parents and my husband I wouldn’t have been where I am today, they’ve always stood by my side,” said Anju.
“The adversity I faced and had to overcome taught me that there is no substitute to hard work and perseverance; everything is possible with right motivation and willingness,” said Anju, 43.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes announced young shooter Manu Bhaker as the winner of the Emerging player of the Year award, a new category added to this year’s BBC ISWOTY.
“This award means a lot to me. It feels like my hard work has been recognised and people know about it now. Being awarded by Anju Bobby George, this year’s Lifetime Achievement winner truly feels like the emerging talent is being promoted,” said Manu.
The BBC ISWOTY was first initiated in 2019 to honour the best sportswomen of the country and highlight the inspiring journeys of talented Indian sportswomen.