CHENNAI: Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin handed over cheques of Rs 20 lakh each to chess players Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and D Gukesh for their achievements during a felicitation ceremony organised by Velammal Nexus. Both Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh are alumni of Velammal School.
The event was organised by the Velammal Group to felicitate chess players and other sports achievers. The players were given a cash prize totalling Rs 60 lakh. HR & CE Minister PK Sekarbabu while delivering the welcome address heaped praises for minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, saying, “Karunanidhi didn’t pass away. He lives through Udhayanidhi. The nation speaks what Udhayanidhi speaks. Chess known as the king’s game has now become people games due to CM MK Stalin,” he said.
Udhayanidhi and Sekarbabu apart, Chennai Mayor R Priya, Principal Secretary of Sports Department Atulya Misra, Ambattur MLA Joseph Samuel, Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, Velammal Correspondent MVM Velmohan and DMK functionaries were present on the occasion. “The school played an important role in my career. It’s difficult to balance sports and studies. But my friends and teachers have always supported me,” Praggnanandhaa said.
Gukesh during his speech said his first training starred in Velammal, and the school authorities had been very supportive. After garlanding the chess players, Viswanathan while addressing the crowd, thanked the government for felicitating and encouraging sports persons. “When I became the first Indian to be qualified for the Candidates Tournament, the then CM M Karunanidhi felicitated me,” he said.
Delivering the presidential address Udhayanidhi Stalin said, “Tamil Nadu government is working to make the state the sports capital of India. But the duo has made Tamil Nadu the chess capital of the world.”