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Swimming legend Elvis Ali Hazarika conferred with Asom Saurav

Guwahati

After Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced Elvis Ali Hazarika’s name for the Assam Saurav Award – the second-highest civilian award of the state – the veteran swimmer broke down.

He told Awaz-the Voice, “I cried for about an hour when I got the news. After so much hard work and toiling, I am finally going to get recognition from the government. I am very happy about this.” He profusely thanked Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal for considering him for the award.

Elvis has at least 20 international and 23 national records in swimming under his belt and yet he was never considered for the coveted Arjuna Award, whereas many of his contemporaries with lesser records bagged the award.

Despite being deprived of the prestigious Arjuna Award, reportedly due to negligence of the earlier regimes of Assam, Elvis did not lose heart and continued his efforts.

Finally, on February 14, Elvis Ali Hazarika received his share of recognition when the Assam government conferred the Asom Saurav Award, the second-highest civilian award, on him for his achievements in the field of sports. The award is on the lines of Padma awards at the national level.

Hima Das receiving Asom Saurav from Governor

Elvis shared the stage with none other than former Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Arjuna awardee track sensation Hima Das. Gogoi was awarded the Asom Baibhav, the highest civilian award in Assam, for his landmark contributions to the field of law and justice. Asian Games gold medalist Hima Das, promoter of Tiwa dance Nadiram Deuri, and archaeologist Dr. Kishan Chand Nauriyal of Uttar Pradesh was also awarded the second highest civilian honour Asom Saurav along with Elvis.

Assam governor Gulab Chand Kataria presented the state civil awards 2023 at a function held in Guwahati. Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar was the chief guest at the function.

During his tenure as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Ranjan Gogoi gave a historic verdict on the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. He is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was nominated by erstwhile President Ram Nath Kovind on March 16, 2020.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said he was impressed to attend the awards ceremony. “The recipients of the Assam Baibhav, Assam Saurav, and Assam Gaurav awards have also received the country’s most prestigious civilian honor, the Padma Awards. Therefore, these awards are of great importance. It not only reflects but also reveals the rich socio-cultural aspect of Assam,” said Dhankhar.

Elvis Ali Hazarika made history by successfully swimming across the English Channel a few months ago. He is the first swimmer in the Northeast to achieve this historic feat. After that, Elvis, often referred to as the Merman of Assam, completed his swim from Elephanta Island Jetty to the Gateway of India in Mumbai in December 2023. He is the first Assamese to swim this challenging sea route of about 22 km.

Justice (Retd) Ranjan Gogoi receiving Asom Baibhav award

Elvis recently told Awaz – The Voice that he has another adventure planned for this year. The swimmer said he will swim around Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa in March 2024.

He swam 78 kilometers from Sampfire to Callis, France, and then back to England in July last year. He said that he had achieved his long-held dream of swimming across the English Channel with hard training.

This was his second attempt to swim across the English Channel. In 2018, he made his first attempt but failed at the last minute. He had to return with only 11 kilometers remaining to cross the Channel. He failed in this expedition due to inadequate practice and acclimatization.

He earlier successfully swam across the North Channel in 2022. Elvis also swam across the whales, sharks, seals, and dolphins-infested Catalina Channel (USA) in 2019. He then swam the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai twice in a row in the epidemic-hit 2020 and 2021.

The former international swimmer, who competed in an international swimming debut at the age of seven, set some 23 national records in his career and went on to win some 68 medals, including 20 international.

ALSO READElvis Ali Hazarika becomes the oldest Indian to swim across North Channel

On the other hand, Arjuna Awardee Hima Das, popularly known as Dhing Express, glorified the sports fraternity of Assam by winning two gold and one silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games, in Jakarta. She rocked the world of sports by winning the gold medal for the country at the 2018 World Junior Athletics Championships. Hima is the first Indian sprinter to win a gold medal in an international track event.

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