New Delhi: Star cricketer Virender Sehwag and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh were among six top sports personalities chosen for the 2010 Padma Shri awards for outstanding contribution to Indian sports.
Besides Sehwag and Vijender, shuttler Saina Nehwal, hockey player Ignace Tirkey, motor sports hero Narain Karthikeyan and legendary cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar were chosen for the prestigious award on the eve of Republic Day.
Sushil Kumar, who, at the Beijing Olympics, won India s first wrestling medal in 56 years, was, however, ignored for the award and he made no attempt to hide his disappointment.
I dont know the criteria for getting these awards and neither the people who select the awardees, Sushil told The Telegraph.
All I know is that my credentials are no less than any of them that have got it. I am definitely disappointed, he said.
For midfielder Ignace Tirkey, the award is a double delight. The player who shot to fame for a spectacular goal in the 2003 Asia Cup final in Malaysia, also won the Arjuna award last year.
When I won the Arjuna, people in my village in Orissa took out a big procession, Tirkey said. I dont know what they will do this time, he said.
Vijender said any recognition from the government was always a matter of great honour for him. I am happy and proud and pray to God that I am able to win more honours for the country.
Vijender said a ministry of sports official informed him about the award early in the morning.
Everyone in my family was so happy when I informed them about it. I am now going to China for a boxing tournament. I will go all out to do better, he said.
Saina, who reached the quarter finals of the Beijing Games and won a Super Series title last year, said she was overwhelmed.
Its also an award for badminton, she said. My parents and coaches have equal credit for me winning the award. Without their hard work I would not have been able to improve my game, she said.