New Delhi: Tennis star Leander Paes and badminton player-turned-coach Pullela Gopichand were on Saturday selected for the prestigious Padma Bhushan awards while cricketer Yuvraj Singh was among the seven sportspersons chosen for this year`s Padma Shri award.
Squash player Dipika Pallikal, former Indian women`s cricket captain Anjum Chopra, Sunil Dabas (Kabaddi), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu (Mountaineering), H Boniface Prabhu (Wheel Chair Tennis) and Mamta Sodha (Mountaineering) were the other sports persons, selected for this year`s Padma Shri awards.
The Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards of the country, are given for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field. These awards are conferred by the President at a ceremonial function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
40-year-old Leander Paes, who had earlier being conferred Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, is the most successful tennis player of the country with 14 Grand Slam title -- eight men`s doubles and six mixed doubles.
Last season when he won his 14th major at US Open, he became the oldest players to win a Grand Slam title.
Paes, hero of India`s numerous Davis Cup wins, also won India`s first Olympic medal in singles at the Atlanta Games in 1996, when he won a bronze.
With compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi, he ruled the tennis world in the late 90s. They became the world number one team before parting ways.
Gopichand, one of the finest badminton player to have emerged from the country, is the second renowned sports personality to have been conferred with the Padma Bhushan honour this year.
He was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1999, Khel Ratna in 2001, Padma Shri in 2005 and Dronacharya in 2009 in a glittering career both as a player and a coach.
Gopi, as he is fondly called in the badminton circle, is only the second shuttler from India after Prakash Padukone to have won the prestigious All England Badminton Championships in 2001.
After quitting the game, Gopichand set up his own academy named `Gopichand Badminton Academy` in Hyderabad, which produced the current crop of Indian badminton stars which include Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, PV Sindhu, RMV Gurusai Datt among others.
Gopichand is also credited to have unearth Saina, the first Indian to win a medal in badminton at the Olympics when she bagged the bronze in the 2012 London Games.
Not in the Indian team of late, 32-year-old Yuvraj, a dashing left-handed middle-order batsman and a utility left-arm spinner, was a vital member of India`s limited overs scheme of things.
He was crucial to India`s triumphs in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 in South Africa and the 2011 ODI World Cup at home.
He was named the Man of the Tournament in the 2011 Cricket World Cup and was one of the top performers at the 2007 World Twenty20.
Yuvraj, who is presently out of the national team due to poor form, has represented India in 293 ODIs, amassing 8329 runs with 13 centuries and 51 half-centuries under his belt.
Although he played 40 Test matches for India, Yuvraj never managed to cement his place in the side. His Test record stands at 1900 runs which had three tons and 11 fifties in it.
Yuvraj, an Arjuna awardee, is a fighter to the core on and off the field and successfully overcame a rare germ cell cancer in his left lung to make his comeback to the national team.
Dipika recently became the first Indian to enter the top 10 in the WSA rankings, the official women`s squash world rankings. She is engaged to Indian cricketer Dinesh Karthik.
Dharmshaktu has climbed Mount Everest five times and won Tenzing Norgey National Adventure Award in 2003.
In 1989, Dharmashaktu climbed Nanda Kot (6861 meters), accompanying as a part of a mountaineering team from Lucknow. He was part of mountaineering teams that attempted Mamostong Kangri (7516 mt) in Ladakh and Nanda Bhaner (6236 mt) during 1992.
Boniface Prabhu, is one of the pioneers of wheelchair tennis in India. He has competed in all the major Grand Slam Wheelchair Tennis Championships including the Australian Open, British Open, French Open and US Open. He is the first Indian wheelchair tennis player to reach the semi-finals and finals of all these tournaments.
The 42-year-old represented India 52 times in six different sporting events including shot put, badminton, javelin and discus throw and won medals in many of them. He is a quadriplegic by disability, which means he has no control or sensation in his lower limbs.
Mamta Sodha, 27, from Kaithal district of Haryana, scaled Mt Everest in 2011. She is working as the deputy superintendent of police and awarded Rs 21 lakh for her achievement by the state government.
List of awardees:
Padma Bhushan: Pullela Gopichand (Badminton) and Leander Paes (Tennis).
Padma Shri: Anjum Chopra (Cricket), Sunil Dabas (Cricket), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu (Mountaineering), Dipika Pallikal (Squash), H Boniface Prabhu (Wheel Chair Tennis), Yuvraj Singh (Cricket), Mamta Sodha (Mountaineering).