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Know Sports personalities winning Padma Shri Award in 2024

Seven sports personalities were conferred with the fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri on the eve of 75th Republic Day.

Know Sports personalities winning Padma Shri Award in 2024

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 27 Jan 2024 4:37 AM GMT

Seven sports personalities were awarded Padma Shri awards for their distinguished service in sports on the eve of the 75th Republic Day of India on Friday.

The list consists of a three-time Olympic medalist, two iconic players and veterans of racquet sports, one of the best para-badminton coaches, and the flagbearer of Mallakhamb.

Here's a look at the seven winners who received Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award.

Rohan Bopanna: The 43-year-old tennis player became the oldest world number one in men's doubles after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals and was conferred with Padma Shri hours later.

Bopanna is only the fourth Indian to win a Grand Slam trophy, a mixed doubles title he won with Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski at the French Open in 2017.

On the cusp of making another history, Bopanna expressed his gratitude on X (formerly Twitter) and will play for his maiden Australian Open title with Matthew Ebden today.

Joshna Chinappa (Squash): One of the early superstars of Squash, Joshna turned pro back in 2003 and continues to grind it out on the glass court two decades later.

The 37-year-old has won multiple medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The highlights of her illustrious career include reaching the top 10 in the world rankings, an unprecedented women's doubles gold at the 2014 CWG alongside Dipika Pallikal, and more recently, the duo won the gold at the World Doubles Championship in 2022.

"I have huge admiration for Rohan (Bopanna), we come from the same town. Glad it is happening at the same time for both of us. He messaged me and congratulated me. He has always been a big source of encouragement," said Joshna on winning it with Rohan Bopanna.

Harbinder Singh (Hockey): The most illustrious man on the list, Harbinder Singh is a three-time Olympian hockey player and has donned many hats including the likes of coach, administrator, and government observer in his lifetime.

Born in Quetta, Pakistan, Harbinder was a member of the 1964 Olympic gold-winning Indian hockey team. He also won the bronze medals in the next two Olympic editions in 1968 and 1972.

The centre forward won the gold medal in the 1966 Asian Games and the silver in the 1970 edition where he served as the captain of the Indian team.

"What could be better than receiving an award? This award means a lot to me because it is a huge reward for all my sports achievements. I have been with hockey for over 6 decades first as a player, as a selector, coach, administrator, and government observer. I started playing in 1961, I have been serving hockey since as best as I can. Hockey is my identity,” Harbinder told PTI.

Uday Vishwanath Deshpande (Mallakhamb coach): Considered as the flagbearer of Mallakhamb in the country, Uday Deshpande has dedicated his life to the sport where gymnasts perform aerial yoga.

"It is not an individual honour for me. It is a revolutionary decision for the sport of Malkhamb, which has not had recognition for so many years as a sport from the central government. Now the government is giving the Arjuna award, the Dronacharya award, and now the Padma Shri," he said.

Satendra Singh Lohiya (Para-swimmer): Hailing from a small village in the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, Lohiya was born without any disability. But close to a fortnight later both his legs became 70 per cent disabled.

Despite his inability to use his lower limbs, Lohiya scripted history as he was part of an Indian relay team that crossed the English Channel in 2018. He completed the English Channel in 12 hours and 26 minutes, setting a new record.

Purnima Mahato (Archery coach): One of the earliest coaches of Archery in India, Purnima Mahato has coached the Indian women's recurve team in three successive Olympics 2008, 2012, and 2016.

She also coached the Indian women's recurve team that won bronze medals in 2010 and 2023 Asian Games.

"This is a very big surprise for me. To come from a small place of Birsanagar in Jamshedpur and get Padma is unreal," she said.

Gaurav Khanna (Para-badminton coach): Badminton has Pullela Gopichand who gave India its modern-day stars like PV Sindhu, Gaurav Khanna did the same in para-badminton.

A former national badminton player, Khanna is widely credited for producing the country's best para shuttlers including Pramod Bhagat, Parul Parmer, Palak Kohli, and Manoj Kumar.

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