It’s not just her victories that are inspiring, but the journey to get here is equally worthy of a mention. Sindhu travelled for almost 56 km every morning to get to Pullela Gopichand’s Academy, where she would train for four hours each day.
One of the highest civilian awards in the country are Padma Awards. The three categories of the Padma awards are:
-Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service),
-Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order) and
-Padma Shri (distinguished service).
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For the very first time in the history of Indian sports, all the athletes whose names have been forwarded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports are women.
Here is a look at those nine sports persons:
1. M C Mary Kom (Boxing)
Mary Kom has been recommended for the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award, after the Bharat Ratna. She was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2013 and Padma Shri in 2006. Mary Kom has many feathers to her cap; she is the first Indian woman boxer to win a Gold Medal in the 2014 Asian Games and the same at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
While there is no dispute about what she has done for the sport, she has also helped many girls enter the boxing world. You may certainly have read and perhaps even seen her in action, but here’s a heartwarming video of this rockstar singing.
2. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (Badminton)
This Badminton superstar received Padma Shri in 2015 and has now been nominated for the Padma Bhushan. Earlier this year she scripted history by becoming the first Indian to clinch a gold at the BWF World Championship 2019. She did this by defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in thirty-eight minutes.
It’s not just her victories that are inspiring, but what is equally impressive is her journey. Sindhu travelled for almost 56 km every morning to get to Pullela Gopichand’s Academy, where she would train for four hours each day. For more about this nominee, do click here.
3. Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling)
This wrestler from Haryana is the first Indian to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award. In 2018, Vinesh won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, silver in the Asian Championships and gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games. The country is looking to the 25-year-old to secure a medal for India in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In this article here, you will read how her coach, Woller Akos, who was in Budapest at the time, instructed Vinesh via Whatsapp on how to tackle her Japanese opponent.
4. Harmanpreet Kaur (Cricket)
Her knock of 171* against Australia at the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup is now etched in history. The sports ministry has forwarded Harmanpreet Kaur’s name for Padma Shri this year. Having grown up harbouring dreams of representing India in cricket, Harmanpreet made her ODI debut at the age of 20, against Pakistan Women’s cricket team. Harmanpreet also became the first Indian cricketer to be signed by an overseas Twenty20 franchise in June 2016.
5. Rani Rampal (Hockey)
It was at the age of six that Haryana’s Rani Rampal set foot onto a hockey field. At 14, she made her debut in the Senior Indian Women’s hockey team as its youngest player. In 2016, when India qualified for the Olympics after a long gap of 36 years, it was Rani who made the winning goal.
Having had to fight many societal prejudices, in this interview with The Better India, she says, “They[family] did not think sports could be a career path, not for girls at least. Besides, my relatives would often tell my father, ‘What will she do playing hockey? She will run around the field wearing a short skirt and bring a bad name to your family’.”
This year, the sports ministry has forwarded her name for the Padma Shri. You can read more about her journey here.
6. Manika Batra (Table Tennis)
As of January 2019, Manika is the top female table-tennis player in India and 47th in the world. Manika led the Indian women’s team to a stunning gold medal finish in the Commonwealth Games, with a 3-1 win over a formidable Singapore team. At 24, Manika has many awards under her belt and is also the only Indian to receive “The Breakthrough Star Award” by International Table Tennis Foundation.
Her name has nominated for the Padma Shri. You can read more about her here.
7. Suma Shirur (Shooter)
Nominated for the Padma Shri, Suma is a former Indian shooter who entered the sport in 1990 and in 2002, and created history by winning a gold medal in 10m air rifle pairs (with Anjali Bhagwat) at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.
At the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, she won a silver in the 10m air rifle team event.
8. & 9. Tashi and Nungshi Malik (Mountaineering)
What started as a casual vacation course of mountaineering has today resulted in the twin sisters being nominated for a Padma Shri. Tashi and Nungshi have made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the first twin sisters to climb Mount Everest.
They are the first twins to scale the Seven Summits – Mt Kilimanjaro (South Africa), Mt Everest (Asia), Mt Elbrus (Europe), Mt Aconcagua (South America), Mt Carstensz Pyramid (Australia and Oceania), Mt McKinley (North America) and Mt Vinson Massif (Antarctica).
They are also the World’s first siblings, first twins and youngest women to complete Explorers Grand Slam and the Three Poles Challenge. Click here to know more about the twins.
We will now have to wait until the eve of Republic Day, 2020 (January 25th) to see which of these nominations were accepted and awarded. We wish all of them the very best in their lives and careers.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)