India didn’t have many achievements to be proud of when the Olympic year ended. However, it was a year in which Kerala sportspersons proved their mettle at national and international events. Apart from fine performances of these sportspersons, Kerala could unearth quite a few future stars who are expected to bring laurels to the state.
Manorama is giving an opportunity to its readers to vote and pick the best Kerala sportsperson from the five shortlisted candidates. Manorama, along with leading business firm Kosamattom Finance, is sponsoring the poll - Star of 2016. Readers can vote for the star of their choice.
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The five achievers were shortlisted by an expert committee comprising noted athletics coach S.K. Kaimal, former Kerala Ranji cricketer and coach P. Balachandran, former Asian all-star football player C.C. Jacob, former Indian badminton coach, international referee and Kerala Badminton Association secretary S. Muralidharan.
A brief profile of the contenders
P.R. Sreejesh (Hockey - age 30)
At present Sreejesh is among the best goalkeepers in world hockey. An astute captain, Sreejesh gave impetus to the revival of Indian hockey. He led India to its maiden silver medal in the Champions Trophy championship in 2016. Sreejesh played a leading role in India’s victory in the Asian Champions Trophy. He led India to quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics Games. The first hockey player from Kerala to become the Indian captain, Sreejesh has over the years proved to be reliable goalkeeper. He hails from Kizhakkambalam in Ernakulam district.
C.K. Vineeth (Football - age 28)
C.K.Vineeth became the superstar of Kerala Blasters with his superb performance in the third season of ISL. Vineeth with his quicksilver goals revived the sagging fortunes of Blasters and took them to the final. A key striker for I-League champions Bengaluru FC, Vineeth played an important role in their runner-up finish in the AFC Cup too. Vineeth has donned the India cap six times and he hails from Koothuparamba in Kannur district.
Karun Nair (Cricket - age 26)
Karun Nair entered conscience of cricket fans by smashing an unbeaten triple century (303) against England in the final Test in Chennai. Karun's maiden ton was a triple century and he completed his 100th, 200th and 300th runs in a single day. Karun carried his splendid form in Ranji Trophy and IPL into Test cricket. A resident of Bengaluru, Karun's parents hail from Chengannur.
Jisna Mathew (Athletics - age 17)
A school girl whose dream run on the fast lane saw her represent the country in the Olympic Games. The 17-year-old was the youngest member of the Indian athletics team at the Rio Olympics. A trainee of Usha School of Athletics, Jisna has won gold medal in 400m, 4x400 relays at the Asian junior athletics meet. She holds the national record in 200m and 400m in under-16 and under-18 categories. Even as a junior, Jisna has made it a habit of winning medals at the senior level. She hails from Alakode in Kannur district.
P.C. Thulasi (Badminton - age 25)
P.C. Thulasi became the first woman from Kerala to win the national senior badminton championships singles title last year. She had in 2008 won a gold medal in doubles in the Youth Commonwealth Games. Thulasi is also a bronze medalist in team event in the world junior badminton championship and also a silver medalist at the 2010 SAF Games. She also won a bronze medal in the team event in the 2014 Asian Games and became the first one from Kerala to win a medal in Asian Games badminton event. She hails from Palakkad.
How to vote
For voting, the readers should type VOTE and after putting space type their option in English and SMS it to 56767123 (SMS charges are applicable). The options are: A. P.R. Sreejesh; B. Karun Nair; C. C.K. Vineeth; D. Jisna Mathew; E. P.C. Thulasi.
For example, if a reader wishes to vote for Sreejesh then he/she should type VOTE then put space and type A. The voting will end next Thursday (January 26).
The best athlete will win 10 sovereigns of gold, while 10 lucky readers who correctly chose the star sportsperson will be richer by Rs 10,000 each.