Shuttler Kidambi Srikanth and former tennis player Somdev Devvarman were felicitated with the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday. The duo received the country’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, in New Delhi. Srikanth is presently the World No 2 while Devvarman retired last year but not before winning a gold medal for the country at the Asian Games. Besides Srikanth and Devvarman, India’s first Paralympic gold medallist, Murlikant Petkar also received the Padma Shri on Tuesday.
Other athletes who were to be conferred with the awards were: former India cricket captain MS Dhoni, cueist Pankaj Advani, both to be bestowed with the third-highest civilian award in Padma Bhushan and weightlifter Saikom Mirabhai Chanu with the Padma Shri. However, all three could not be present for the ceremony due to varied reasons.
The tweet posted on the President of India’s timeline read, “#PresidentKovind presents Padma Shri to Shri Kidambi Srikanth. He is the first Indian badminton player to win the golden trio of Grand Prix gold, Super Series and Super Series Premier titles”. Srikanth surged to prominence and front pages of dailies across the countries with six titles in the year including four Super Series. He won the French Open, Denmark Open, Australian Open, Indonesia Open, India Open and China Open.
Devvarman, who retired prior to the Chennai Open in 2017, won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 followed by two gold medals and a bronze at the Asian Games in the same year.
Petkar won a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Paralympics, in Heidelberg, Germany. He set a world record in the 50m freestyle swimming event with time of 37.33 seconds. In the same Games, he participated in javelin, precision javelin throw and slalom emerging as a finalist in all three events.
Dhoni has previously been conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007 and the Padma Shri in 2009. Advani, also a legend in his sport like Dhoni, has won gold twice at the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010. He is also a multiple world-champion. Manipuri weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won silver medal in the women’s 48kg weight category at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. But she upped herself by lifting a world record of 194 kg in total (85 kg snatch and 109 kg clean & jerk) to win gold in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships held at Anaheim, CA, United States.