Padma Awards 2019: Bajrang Punia, Ajay Thakur honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind

Bajrang Punia, Harika Dronavalli, Ajay Thakur and Sharath Kamal Achanta pose for a group photo before receiving Padma Shri awards. (Source: PTI)

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday conferred Padma Awards to 47 prominent and inspiring personalities, including nine from sports. The sports stars to receive the Padma Shri honours are wrestler Bajrang Punia, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, football captain Sunil Chhetri, basketball player Prashanti Singh, archer Bombayla Devi Laishram, grandmaster Harika Dronavalli, kabaddi captain Ajay Thakur and table tennis player Sharath Kamal.

Bachendri Pal, who became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1984, has been bestowed with the honour for 'distinguished service of a high order.' She was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia was conferred with the Padma Shri award by President Ramnath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal)
President Ram Nath Kovind confers Padma Shri upon Ajay Thakur. (Source: PTI)
Harika Dronavalli receiving the Padma Shri from the President Ramnath Kovind in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Bajrang, who lashed out at the government last year for not including him for the Khel Ratna awards which were taken by cricket captain Virat Kohli and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, is a World Championship silver and bronze medallist and had also won gold at Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018.

The 37-year old Gambhir, who played match-winning knocks in the finals of India's World T20 win in 2007 and the 2011 World Cup title triumph, also received India's fourth highest civilian award. Having played 58 Tests, 147 ODIs and 37 T20Is for India since making his international debut in 2003, the left-handed batsman announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on December 2018 after scoring 10,324 International runs.

Meanwhile, Chhetri, who guided India in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 this month, became the sixth Indian Footballer to be awarded with the Padma Shri. He went past Argentina great Lionel Messi to become the second highest active international goal scorer with 67 goals, one place behind Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Chhetri has won 3 Nehru Cups (2007, 2009, 2012), an AFC Challenge Cup (2012), and 2 SAFF Championships (2011, 2016) in his illustrious career.

Other notable sportspersons who received the honour include kabaddi star Ajay Thakur, table tennis player Sharath Kamal, Grandmaster Harika Dronavalli.

64-year old Bachendri Pal, who became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1984, has been bestowed with the honour for 'distinguished service of a high order.'

Here is the full list of sports athletes conferred with the Padma Awards on Monday:

Bachendri Pal (Mountaineering) – Uttarakhand [Padma Bhushan]

Bombayla Devi Laishram (Archery) – Manipur

Prashanti Singh (Basketball) – Uttar Pradesh

Gautam Gambhir (Cricket) – Delhi

Sunil Chhetri(Football) – Telangana

Ajay Thakur (Kabaddi) – Himachal Pradesh

Sharath Kamal (Table Tennis) – Tamil Nadu

Bajrang Punia (Wrestling) – Haryana

Harika Dronavalli (Chess) – Andhra Pradesh

The Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian awards of the country – are conferred in three categories: the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri.