Bindra, Dhoni get honorary army ranks

Updated: Nov 01, 2011, 18:38 PM IST

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and the captain of Indian cricket team MS Dhoni have been bestowed with the honorary army ranks in the Territorial Army.

Army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, pipped their ranks on their shoulders.

President Pratibha Patil had approved the grant of honorary commissions to the two sportspersons on Sep 13 in recognition of their achievements in their respective sports.

Bindra and Dhoni now joined Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar who were conferred with honorary ranks in the armed forces.

Dhoni was commissioned into the elite Para Regiment in the presence of the Colonel of the Regiment, Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, Bindra was welcomed into the Sikh Regiment by Lt. Gen. Sumer Singh, its Colonel of the Regiment.

"I have got the maroon beret now, but I have to earn it," Dhoni said soon after, pointing out that becoming a member of the elite Parachute Regiment was not child's play and involved rigorous combat and airborne operations training.

"I will soon find time to go for my training, will meet with the soldiers on the borders and encourage youth to join the army," said Dhoni, who has earlier interacted with army personnel during visits to cantonments. He was asked by his wife Sakshi, how he would contribute to the army.

"Joining the Territorial Army and donning this uniform is a childhood dream come true for me," he added.

On his choice of the Para Regiment, the cricketer said he wanted to be part of a regiment that had members from all over the country and from all regiments of the Indian Army, and hence the choice narrowed down to the Para Regiment.

Bindra said his interaction with the army was relatively new and hence he would learn more now that he is donning the Olive Green uniform.

Kapil Dev is an honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army, while Tendulkar is an honorary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force.

Abhinav Bindra had won gold in the 10-metre air rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His feat made him India’s first ever individual gold medallist, and brought to the country its first Olympic gold after the hockey medal in the 1980 Moscow games.

With inputs from IANS