The name of six-time world champion boxer Mary Kom has been recommended for the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award, the first time that a woman athlete’s name has been put forward by the sports ministry for the country’s second highest civilian honour after the Bharat Ratna.
Mary’s name was among nine recommended by the ministry for the Padma awards, and in another first, all the nine athletes this time around are women, the Times of India reported.
Badminton star PV Sindhu, who became the first Indian to win the world championship in August, has been recommended for the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third highest civilian award.
Mary Kom was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2013 and Padma Shri in 2006. If she receives the Padma Vibhushan award, it would make her the fourth sportsperson to do so after chess wizard Viswanathan Anand in 2007, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar in 2008 and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, who got the award posthumously in 2008.
Sindhu was overlooked for the Padma Bhushan honour in 2017 after her name was recommended by the sports ministry. She had got the Padma Shri in 2015.
The other seven women in this year's list have all been recommended for the Padma Shri. They are wrestler Vinesh Phogat, table tennis star Manika Batra, T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, hockey captain Rani Rampal, former shooter Suma Shirur and mountaineer twin sisters, Tashi and Nungshi Malik, the TOI report said.
The recommendations have been sent to the Padma awards committee in the home ministry. The names of the awardees will be announced on the eve of the Republic Day next year.
The 36-year-old Mary Kom is looking to qualify for her second Olympics – the 2020 Tokyo Games – after securing a historic bronze at the 2012 Games in London. She had clinched the world title in 48kg category for the record sixth time last year.