Weightlifter Kunjarani Devi was not expecting to be conferred with the Padma Shri Award and said she was pleasantly surprised to find her name among one of the recipients for the prestigious civilian honour.
The 48kg lifter from Manipur said she was happy that though late, her hard toil has finally been recognised by the government. "I thought I would get the Padma Shri after I won gold in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. So I was not expecting to get the award this year. When I got a call that I have been awarded with Padma Shri I was pleasantly surprised. I am happy to have got the award though belatedly," she told PTI.
Kunjarani, now 42, has been one of the most decorated sportspersons of India, having won more than 50 international medals -- at the Asian and Commonwealth Games as well as at Asian, Commonwealth and World Championships. She said she was happy to have got the fourth highest civilian award of the country, having already received Arjuna Award (1990) and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (1997).
"I have got the Arjuna Award and Rajiv Khel Ratna and the Padma award was the only one missing. So, I am happy that I have been honoured with it now. I have won more than 60 international medals and I feel my hard work for the country has been recognised," said Kunjarani, who is yet to announce her retirement though she has not taken part in any international event for a long time.
"I am happy for the people of Manipur that I have been named for the Padma Shri Award. I dedicate this award to my family, to my colleagues and officials at the CRPF and my coaches," said Kunjarani who last appeared in a competition in the Senior Nationals in Udaipur last year.