New Delhi, 25th Jan, Special correspondent : Tennis star Leander Paes and badminton player-turned-coach Pullela Gopichand were on Saturday selected for the prestigious Padma Bhushan awards while cricketer Yuvraj Singh was among the seven sportspersons chosen for this year’s Padma Shri award.
Squash player Dipika Pallikal, former Indian women’s cricket captain Anjum Chopra, Sunil Dabas (Kabaddi), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu (Mountaineering), H Boniface Prabhu (Wheel Chair Tennis) and Mamta Sodha (Mountaineering) were the other sports persons selected for this year’s Padma Shri awards.
Former CSIR chief Dr R Mashelkar and yoga guru B K S Iyengar were chosen for the Padma Vibhushan awards.
Well-known actor Kamal Haasan will be awarded the Padma Bhushan, while Bollywood actor Vidya Balan figured in Padma Shri award list.
The Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. The Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards of the country, is given for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field. These awards are conferred upon by the President at a ceremonial function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
40-year-old Leander Paes, who had earlier been presented the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, is the most successful tennis player in the country with 14 Grand Slam title — eight men’s doubles and six mixed doubles.
Last season when he won his 14th major at the US Open, he became the oldest player to win a Grand Slam title. Paes, hero of India’s numerous Davis Cup wins, also won India’s first Olympic medal in singles at the Atlanta Games in 1996, when he won a bronze. With compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi, he ruled the tennis world in the late 90s going on to become the world number one team before parting ways.
Gopichand, one of the finest badminton player to have emerged from the country, is the second renowned sports personality to have been conferred with the Padma Bhushan honour this year.
He was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1999, Khel Ratna in 2001, Padma Shri in 2005 and Dronacharya in 2009 in a glittering career both as a player and a coach.
Gopi, as he is fondly called in the badminton circle, is only the second shuttler from India after Prakash Padukone to have won the prestigious All England Badminton Championships in 2001.