New Delhi: Mountaineer Bachendri Pal was on Friday conferred with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, while Gautam Gambhir, Bajrang Punia and Sunil Chhetri, among others, received the Padma Shri.
The government announced names of the Padma awardees 2019 on the eve of the 70th Republic Day. The 64-year-old legendary mountaineer, who became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1984, has been bestowed with the honour for “distinguished service of a high order”. Besides World Cup-winning cricketer Gambhir, star footballer Chhetri and World Championship silver medallist wrestler Bajrang, other sportspersons to have received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour, this year included Dronavalli Harika (chess), Sharath Kamal (table tennis), Bombayla Devi Laishram (archery), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi) and Prashanti Singh (basketball).
Gambhir, 37, played match-winning knocks in the finals of India’s World T20 win in 2007 and the 2011 World Cup title triumph in 2011. The 34-year-old Chhetri has led the Indian football team with distinction for over a decade now and is the all-time highest scorer in the country. Bajrang is a World Championship silver and bronze medallist besides winning gold at Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Last year Bajrang was left fuming when he was not selected for the prestigious Khel Ratna award. Cricketer Virat Kohli and Weight lifter Mirabai Chanu were recommended for country’s highest sports award.
Achanta Sharath Kamal is a professional table tennis player from Chennai. He is the second Indian table tennis player to become 8 times national champion after Kamlesh Mehta. His current world rank is 31.