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Rediff.com  » Sports » Paes, Gopichand get Padma Bhushan; Yuvraj Padma Shri

Paes, Gopichand get Padma Bhushan; Yuvraj Padma Shri

Last updated on: January 25, 2014 21:38 IST

Tennis star Leander Paes and badminton player-turned-coach Pullela Gopichand were selected for the prestigious Padma Bhushan award while cricketer Yuvraj Singh was among seven sportspersons named for this year's Padma Shri.

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 sportspersons selected for this year's Padma Shri.

The Padma Bhushan, one of the country's highest civilian awards, is given for distinguished service of high order, and the Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field. These awards are conferred by the President at a ceremonial function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

The 40-year-old Paes, who was earlier conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna award, is the country's most successful tennis player, having  won 14 Grand Slam titles -- eight men's doubles and six mixed doubles.

Last season, when he won his 14th major at the US Open, he was the oldest player to win a Grand Slam title. The hero of India's numerous Davis Cup wins, he 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. The pair was ranked the world number one team before parting ways.

Gopichand, one of the finest badminton players to emerge from the country, is the second renowned sports personality to be conferred the Padma Bhushan.

In a glittering career, both as a player and coach, he was conferred the Arjuna award in 1999, Khel Ratna in 2001, Padma Shri in 2005 and Dronacharya in 2009.

Gopi, as he is fondly called in the badminton circles, is only the second shuttler from India, after Prakash Padukone, to have won the prestigious All England Championship in 2001.

After quitting the game, he set up his own academy, named 'Gopichand Badminton Academy', in Hyderabad, which produced the current crop of Indian badminton stars, including Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, PV Sindhu, RMV Gurusai Datt among others.

Gopichand is also credited to have unearthed Saina, the first Indian to win a medal in badminton at the Olympics when she bagged the bronze in the 2012 London Games.

Out of the Indian team of late, the 32-year-old Yuvraj, a dashing left-handed middle-order batsman and a utility left-arm spinner, was a vital member of India's limited-overs scheme of things.

He was crucial to India's triumphs in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup at home.

He was named Man of the Tournament in the 2011 Cricket World Cup and was one of the top performers in the 2007 World Twenty20.

Yuvraj represented India in 293 ODIs, amassing 8329 runs, including 13 centuries and 51 half-centuries.

Although he played 40 Tests, he was unable to cement his place in the side. His Test record reads: 1900 runs, including three tons and 11 fifties.

An Arjuna awardee, Yuvraj is a fighter to the core on and off the field. He successfully overcame a rare germ cell cancer in his left lung to make his comeback to the national team.

Dipika recently was the first Indian to enter the top 10 in the WSA rankings. She is engaged to Indian cricketer Dinesh Karthik.

Dharmshaktu has climbed Mount Everest five times and won the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure award in 2003.

In 1989, he climbed Nanda Kot (6861 metres), accompanying as a part of a mountaineering team from Lucknow. He was part of mountaineering teams that attempted Mamostong Kangri (7516 mt) in Ladakh and Nanda Bhaner (6236 mt) during 1992.

Boniface Prabhu, is one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis in India. He has competed in all major Grand Slam Wheelchair Tennis Championships, including the Australian, British, French and US Opens. He is the first Indian wheelchair tennis player to reach the semi-finals and final of all these tournaments.

The 42-year-old represented India 52 times in six different sporting events, including shot put, badminton, javelin and discus throw and won medals in many of them. He is a quadriplegic by disability, which means he has no control or sensation in his lower limbs.

Mamta Sodha, 27, from Kaithal district of Haryana, scaled Mt Everest in 2011. She is working as Deputy Superintendent of Police and was awarded Rs 21 lakh for her achievement by the state government.

Image: Leander Paes

Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images