New Delhi: The sporting fraternity on Saturday bowed in admiration as India`s pride Sachin Tendulkar walked into sunset after a glorious 24-year-long international cricket career and welcomed the government`s decision to confer him with the Bharat Ratna.
Former India hockey player Ashok Kumar, the son of legendary Dhyan Chand, who was also a contender for the country`s highest civilian honour, congratulated Tendulkar.
"I am very happy that at last a sportsperson is being conferred with the Bharat Ratna. Sachin truly deserves the honour," Ashok told PTI.
"We are not at all disappointed that Dhyanchand did not get the Bharat Ratna. We tried our best. I am happy that Sachin is the first sportsperson to receive the honour.
"It is a welcome step from the government to include sportspersons for Bharat Ratna. This recognition will motivate all sportspersons to excel in their fields," added Ashok.
Former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia also echoed the similar sentiments and said, "It`s great that a sportsperson has been conferred with the Bharat Ratna. For a sportsperson to ply his trade for 24 long years at a consistently high standard, he deserves the honour."
Two-time Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar said the move will open the doors for other sportspersons to get the recognition.
"I am very happy for him and would like to congratulate Sachin on Bharat Ratna. He has done so much for cricket. The government has conferred the honour at the right time when he is bowing out on a high. I am happy with the decision and it will open the doors for other sportspersons also.
"Sachin inspired a whole generation of sportspersons. I wish him a happy retired life. We will miss him on the cricket field," Sushil said.
Former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay said Bharat Ratna was a fitting farewell gift to Tendulkar.
"A big congratulation to Sachin. Thank you very much government of India for recognising sportspersons for Bharat Ratna," Pillay said.