The Padma Awards are some of the highest awards a civilian can be conferred with in India, only being preceded by Bharat Ratna. Every year, a list of Padma awardees are announced and some of India’s best sportsmen and sportswomen are generally included every year, in all three of the categories. In 2020, nothing has changed all of a sudden and quite a few athletes are included in the list. Let’s check out the names who wins the award this year:
Rani Rampal is an field hockey player who plays internationally for the Indian Women’s team. The current skipper of the team, she started early at the age of 15, and has since played more than 200 international matches and scored 134 goals. She is a striker who can also get down the field as an attacking midfielder. Very recently, she was the key player in India’s win against United States, a win that helped India qualify for the World Cup.
After the news of her being awarded, Rampal tweeted that she was humbled by the win of such a great honour.
I am humbled and honoured to receive one of the highest civilian awards of our country #Padmashree I dedicate this award to my entire team & supporting staff. Elated & thankful to @KirenRijiju sir @TheHockeyIndia coach Baldev Sir, family, friends & fans for always supporting me.
— Rani Rampal (@imranirampal) January 26, 2020
Tarundeep Rai is an Indian Army personnel who also excels at the sport of archery. The right-handed archer started his career way back in 1997 and made his International debut in the year of 2003. His hobbies are: playing football, driving, movies. He is the biggest hope for India to win a medal at Tokyo Medal in his (recurve archery) particular competition. Incidentally, Indian football’s retired superstar Bhaichung Bhutia is one of his cousins.
He is the first Indian to win an individual men’s silver medal in Archery, at the Asian Games 2010 in Guangzhou, China. He was part of the Indian Recurve team which got a Silver in in the Archery World Cup at Croatia held this year as well as 1 Gold and 1 Silver in Recurve Team at World Cups held in 2010. He won the Arjuna Award in 2005.
Jitu Rai is an Indian Shooter who specializes in the 10 metre and 50 metre air pistol events. Representing India, he has won 1 Silver Medal in the World Championships, 2 each of Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal at the World Cup events and 2 Gold Medals at Commonwealth Games. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Jitu managed to stand 8th and 12th in 10 metre and 50 metre pistol events respectively.
The 33 year-old has won both the Arjuna Award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khelratna, the topmost award available solely for excellence at the field of sports.
Mullera Poovayya Ganesh is a former Indian professional field hockey player. He was also captain and coach of the Indian National Field Hockey team, making over 100 appearances as a player. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1973.
Ganesh was also a talented footballer who played for Coorg District from 1960 to 1964 but switched to Field Hockey after joining the Indian Army. Ganesh represented the Services in the National Hockey Championship from 1965 to 1973 and played for Bombay in the 1974 National Championship. He found a place in the Indian team in 1970. Ganesh played for India at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, finishing third. He was one of the coaches of the Indian team that won a gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Russia. Ganesh has been involved with the administration of Indian Hockey ever since.
What Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri is to 21st century Indian men’s football, Oinam Bembem Devi is to Indian women’s football. Nicknamed ‘Durga’ due to his awe-inspiring performances against stronger opponents, in his career she played 85 matches for the National Team, scoring 32 times in them.
Devi is definitely pleased with the award announcement. “I am happy that the government has recognised the several years of my contribution to the senior women’s national team. I am glad that the sacrifices I made for my career have resulted in something big like this. When I started playing football, I had no clue about these awards. All I can recall is that when I first saw a women’s football match, I wanted to do something similar by representing my country. I worked hard for it and as I played for the senior team, I realised that winning medals is very tough in football. I played over 20 years for India, and when the government acknowledged my contribution through the Arjuna award, I felt satisfied,” Devi commented.
Admittedly one of the biggest stars of Indian cricket in his time, Zaheer was at the start of his career a genuine first bowler, but as his captain and current BCCI Prez Sourav Ganguly noted, turned into a master of swing and varied deliveries. He played for the National Team from 2000 to 2014, and won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. He took 282 wickets in ODIs and 311 in Test Matches.
Zaheer was selected into the national team immediately following his first-class debut, which came at the recommendation of then ace fast bowler Javagal Srinath. He is especially praised for his performances on flat subcontinent pitches and the controlling of different types of cricket balls. In 2011 he was conferred with the Arjuna Award.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is a badminton player and the reigning World Champion. Starting badminton at the age of 8, she burst into the top 20 of World rankings at the age of 17. She trained under Pullella Gopichand, a great player in his own right.
Sindhu became the only Indian woman to win a Silver Medal at Olympics when she reached the final of the women’s singles event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazi. In August last year, the 24-year-old became the first Indian to win Gold at the badminton World Championships. She has also won two Silver and two Bronze Medals at the World Championships in the past, thus making her only the second woman after Chinese two-time Olympic Gold medallist Zhang Ning, to win five Medals in the competition.
MC Mary Kom
Mary Kom has certainly transcended boxing and sports, becoming a household name in India in the process. From the days when her father used to farm at the slope of mountains, she has reached the pinnacle of world boxing time, after winning matches after matches all around the world. She is now an icon of struggle, hardship, resilience and a prime example of a strong female and a strong mother.
The 36 year-old is She the only woman to become World Boxing Amateur Champion for a record six times, the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships, and the only boxer (male or female) to win eight World Championship medals. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, ‘Magnificent Mary’ fought above a category her weight limit and still managed to bring a Bronze Medal back home to her country. She has also been an honorary member of Rajya Sabha, and a national observer for Boxing in India.