New Delhi: Star cricketer VVS Laxman and world champion wrestler Sushil Kumar were among seven sportspersons who were on Tuesday honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri Award for their contribution in their respective sports.
Besides Laxman and Sushil, the other five conferred with the civilian award were weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, shooter Gagan Narang, discus thrower Krishna Poonia, para jumper Shital Mahajan and mountaineer Harbhajan Singh.
36-year-old Laxman, who has scored 7903 runs in 120 Tests at an average of 47.32, has played many a memorable match-winning knocks for India in his nearly 15-year-old international career starting 1996.
He entered into the cricketing folklore with his magnificent 281 against Steve Waugh’s Australia in 2001, which helped India script a historic win after following on at the Eden Gardens Test.
In the past one year, the stylish batsman from Hyderabad has been the saviour on many occasions. He won the third Test for India against Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 103 to level the three-match series 1-1 in August last year.
Laxman then battled severe back pain to hit an unbeaten 73 and win the second Test against Australia in Mohali in October last year, before a similar act last month against South Africa in Durban, where he scored 96 to win the second Test and level the series.
Laxman, who was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2001, has scored 16 hundreds and 49 half centuries in Tests, besides scoring 2338 runs from 86 one-day internationals.
Sushil shot into limelight by bagging the bronze medal in 66kg freestyle competition in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games - the first by an Indian since K D Jadhav’s bronze medal- winning feat at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
He then won the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow and clinched gold in the Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games, both in Delhi last year.
Sushil received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, in 2009.
Meanwhile the stylish middle order batsman VVS Laxman, who was today honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri award, said it was great and satisfying moment for him as his achievements while playing for the country have been rewarded.
“I feel honoured as I have been bestowed with one of the most prestigious awards. It is indeed satisfying that my achievements while playing for the country have been rewarded. The biggest honour, however, is the opportunity to represent my country for so many years,” Laxman told the mediapersons after it was announced that he is getting the award.