Bharat Ratna: 'Tendulkar truly deserves the honour'
The sporting fraternity bowed in admiration as India's pride, Sachin Tendulkar, walked into the sunset after a glorious 24-year-long international cricket career and welcomed the government's decision to confer him with the Bharat Ratna.
Former India hockey player Ashok Kumar, the son of legendary Dhyanchand, who was also a contender for the country's highest civilian honour, congratulated Tendulkar.
"I am very happy that at last a sportsperson is being conferred with the Bharat Ratna. Sachin truly deserves the honour," Ashok said.
"We are not at all disappointed that Dhyanchand did not get the Bharat Ratna. We tried our best. I am happy that Sachin is the first sportsperson to receive the honour.
"It is a welcome step from the government to include sportspersons for Bharat Ratna. This recognition will motivate all sportspersons to excel in their fields," added Ashok.
Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia also echoed similar sentiments,
"It's great that a sportsperson has been conferred with the Bharat Ratna. For a sportsperson to ply his trade for 24 long years at a consistently high standard, he deserves the honour," Bhutia said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar of India and Mahendra Singh Dhoni captain of India walk to field during day three
'Sachin inspired a whole generation of sportspersons'
Two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar said the move will open the doors for other sportspersons to get the recognition.
"I am very happy for him and would like to congratulate Sachin on receiving the Bharat Ratna. He has done so much for cricket. The government has conferred the honour at the right time when he is bowing out on a high. I am happy with the decision and it will open the doors for other sportspersons also.
"Sachin inspired a whole generation of sportspersons. I wish him a happy retired life. We will miss him on the cricket field," Sushil said.
Former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay said Bharat Ratna was a fitting farewell gift to Tendulkar.
"A big congratulations to Sachin. Thank you very much government of India for recognising sportspersons for Bharat Ratna," Pillay said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar takes a lap of honour at the Wankhede
'Dhyan Chand also deserved to be given a Bharat Ratna'
Legendary athlete Milkha Singh congratulated Sachin Tendulkar, saying the iconic cricketer deserved to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna.
"He deserved it. Finally, a sportsperson will get this award. With this, it will pave the way for other sportspersons who can now hope to get the highest recognition for their efforts and bringing glory to their country," the 'Flying Sikh' said.
Milkha said that his fight with the government over the years has been that sportspersons should be given due recognition for their achievements as they are the "true ambassadors" of the nation.
"The government should start giving due recognition to its sporting heroes so that the coming generation feels inspired," the 83-year-old said.
Milkha, however, also said that while Tendulkar deserved the honour, it would have been good if hockey legend Dhyan Chand too had been given this award.
"Dhyan Chand also deserved to be given a Bharat Ratna. Hockey is our national game and Dhyan Chand took it to glorious heights and brought so much glory to our nation. If they have given it to Tendulkar, I think Chand too deserves it," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'The award is well deserved and a timely recognition'
Eighty-nine-year-old hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr also congratulated Tendulkar.
"I congratulate Sachin. The Bharat Ratna award is well deserved and a timely recognition. He is an inspiration to coming generations," the Olympian said.
Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, who is currently training in Munich, also heaped praise on Tendulkar for being chosen for the country's highest civilian award.
Bindra, the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, said he was thrilled to know that Tendulkar had been chosen for the award.
He said that it's a great honour that a sportsperson had been chosen for such an award, and the batting legend deserved it.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar