“It is a great honour. I would like to thank the entire badminton fraternity. All my players, the coaches I have worked with, the government, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Badminton Association of India (BAI) for their support. It is thanks to them that I have been selected for this award,” the 40-year-old told IANS here.
“I am very happy to be selected. It is pleasing to know that our hard work is recognised. These awards motivate us sportspersons to do more for our country,” the former All-England champion added.
The player-turned-coach has also been honoured with the Khel Ratna (2001), Arjuna Award (1999) and Padma Shri (2005). He got the Dronacharya Award in 2009 for excellence in coaching. Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap are some of his proteges.
Along with Gopichand, tennis star Leander Paes was selected for the Padma Bhushan while cricketer Yuvraj Singh and squash player Dipika Pallikal were among the seven selected for India’s fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri, on the eve of the 65th Republic Day.
Anjum Chopra (women’s cricketer), Sunil Dabas (kabaddi), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu and Mamta Sodha (mountaineering) and H. Boniface Prabhu (wheelchair tennis) are the others who will get Padma Shri.
The awards will be presented by the president at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan around March-April.