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Laxman, Sushil among seven sportspersons conferred Padma Shri

PTI  New Delhi, January 25, 2011
First Published: 19:48 IST(25/1/2011) | Last Updated: 21:26 IST(25/1/2011)

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.

Rifle ace Narang had a memorable 2010, winning four gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and two silver in the Guangzhou Asian Games. He had also won four gold in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Gagan, whose success story began with a gold medal in the Afro Asian Games in 2003, won a gold in ISSF World Cup in 2006 and a bronze in the 2008 edition. He also won gold in 2008 ISSF World Cup final in Bangkok where he scored a world record 703.5 in 10 metre air rifle.

Kunjarani, one of the most decorated Indian sportspersons, has won more than 50 international medals starting with three silver medals in the World Championships in 1989. She won gold in women's 48-kg category at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

In the Asian Games, Kunjarani, now 42, won a bronze medal each in Beijing (1990) and Hiroshima (1994).

The assistant commandant at the CRPF has also won several medals in the Asian and Commonwealth Championships. She was was conferred Arjuna Award in 1990 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for the year 1996-1997.

Poonia became the first Indian woman from track and field events to win an individual gold in the Commonwealth Games when she achieved the feat in the Delhi edition last year.

Her feat was also the first time in 52 years when an Indian won an individual gold since Flying Sikh Milkha Singh's effort in 1958 edition.

She had also won a bronze each in the Asian Games in 2006 and 2010. She was conferred the Arjuna Award last year.


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