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Leander, Yuvraj saluted

New Delhi: Leander Paes and India’s 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh were chosen for the prestigious Padma awards for their exceptional and distinguished services in the sporting arena.

While Paes would receive the Padma Bhushan, Yuvraj Singh would get the Padma Shri.

All-England badminton champion Pullela Gopichand, who is now the national coach, is the other Padma Bhushan award winner.

Squash player Dipika Pallikal, former India women’s cricket captain Anjum Chopra, Sunil Dabas (kabaddi), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu (mountaineering), H Boniface Prabhu (wheelchair tennis) and Mamta Sodha (mountaineering) were the other sportspersons selected for this year’s Padma Shri awards.

The awards are conferred upon by the President at a ceremonial function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Son of former hockey Olympian Vece Paes, Leander is one of the most successful players in Indian tennis history. In 1996 he became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal in 44 years by bagging the bronze at Atlanta.

A recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Awards, Leander is still going strong at 40. He won the US Open doubles title last year.

Yuvraj Singh was at his best during the 2011 World Cup in India and won the Player of the Tournament award. A cancer survivor, Yuvraj is an inspiration to one and all.

The Padma Bhushan award to Gopichand is also well deserved.

One of the world’s finest players during his time, Hyderabad based Gopichand has also excelled as a coach.

He is one of the rare sportspersons to have won both the Arjuna and Dronacharya awards.

In between he was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Shri.