New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Former Asian Games gold medal-winning wrestler Satpal, who also coached inspirational Sushil Kumar, was Sunday named for the prestigious Padma Bhushan award, while national hockey team captain Sardar Singh and two-time badminton World Championships bronze medallist P.V. Sinhdu were among the five sportspersons chosen for this year’s Padma Shri awards.
Former women’s hockey captain Saba Anjum, Arunima Sinha — the first woman amputee mountaineer to climb Mount Everest in 2013 — and Indian women’s cricket team skipper Mithali Raj were the other sportspersons selected for this year’s Padma Shri awards.
However, India’s only two-time individual Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who controversially appeared to be in contention for the country’s third highest civilian award, didn’t find their names in the list.
The 59-year-old Satpal was a trail-blazer in Indian wrestling, winning the bronze medal in the 1974 Asian Games and then improving his performance by striking gold in the 1982 Asiad held here.
Continuing his contribution for the country’s ancient sport, he established an ‘akhada’ in Chhatrasal Stadium, which produced Sushil, who also became a world champion in 2010.
Sixteen-time national champion Satpal was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1974, Padma Shri in 1983, and the Dronacharya award in 2009 in a glittering career both as a player and coach.
Among the Padma Shri award winners, the 28-year-old Sardar Singh led his side to the nationÂ’s first Asian Games gold in 16 years by defeating arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan in the final. With this achievement India also became the first team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Under the talismanic centre-half SardarÂ’s captaincy, India also defeated Wold Champions Australia 3-1 in a Test series Down Under and also won the silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He has represented India in more than 200 international matches.
Badminton protege SindhuÂ’s most notable performance last year was winning the bronze at the Copenhagen World Championships. With the medal, she became the first and only Indian ever to win two World medals, that too back-to-back in the sportÂ’s most prestigious tournament.
The teenager maintained a top-10 ranking for most of the year and also reached the finals of India Grand Prix Gold in Lucknow in January 2014. However, she peaked when she won the Macau Open GP Gold crown in November. The Hyderabadi also consistently defeated top players and backed it up with the Commonwealth Games silver.
Former national women’s hockey star striker Saba Anjum — a true rags to riches story — has converted the Arjuna Award she received two years ago into IndiaÂ’s fourth highest civilian honour.
She was part of the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal winning team and also clinched the Asia Cup gold in 2004. During her 13-year-long international career, she scored 92 goals in 200 matches.
Arunima was a national volleyball player who was pushed out of a running train by thieves in 2011 while resisting them. One of her legs was amputated below the knee as a result.
While still being treated in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here, she resolved to climb Mount Everest. She contacted Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest, in 2011 and signed up for training under her at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) 2012. With a prosthetic leg, Sinha climbed Island Peak (6150 metres) in 2012 as preparation for her ascent of Everest.
IndiaÂ’s womenÂ’s cricket captain Mithali Raj was a consistent performer in 2014. The dependable middle-order batter in IndiaÂ’s captain in all three forms of the game. In January 2014 she led her side to a 3-0 win in an One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka. In April, she also led India to book a place in the 2016 World Twenty20 by beating Pakistan in qualification playoff.
Also, she helped India beat England in their first Test match in eight years in Wormsley in 2014 August, with Mithali hitting the winning runs. She was also nominated for the ODI and T-20 WomenÂ’s Cricketer of the Year by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in November.