Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh said the country's highest sporting honour - Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna-- will spur him to make a fresh beginning in boxing.
"It is a dream come true for me. My journey has just begun. I am not going to stop here. Khel Ratna is the highest honour for a sportserson and it could not have come at a better time before the World Championships in September. It will motivate me to perform well there," Vijender told IANS.
It has been an incredible year for Vijender since bringing an Olympic medal home, for a nation starved of sporting honours.
Fame came calling after that triumph. The Bhiwani boxer attended countless award ceremonies, shared dais with Bollywood actresses and became a well-recognised face on television.
The 24-year-old said that receiving the Khel Ratna from the President would be the "most satisfying experience".
"My life did change overnight after winning the Olympic medal. I have been in constant limelight. I know that it is boxing that has earned me all the respect and I have to keep performing. I am determined to work harder."
Vijender said he is happy the sports ministry had made an exception this year and given the award to three sportsperson. The only other time more than one sportsperson was bestowed the award was in 2002-03 when shooter Anjali Vedpathak and athlete KM Beenamol shared it.
Wrestler Sushil Kumar, who also won an Olympic bronze at the Beijing Games, and four-time world champion women's boxer MC Marykom are the other Khel Ratna recipients this year.
"I am happy that all three of us have been given the award. It is great that Sushil will also get the award. He is my friend and we two have shared so many memories after winning the Olympic medal."
"It is also a big achievement for boxing in the country. Youngsters are taking to the boxing and it will be a huge boost the sport," Vijender added.
Despite winning medals at the Beijing Games, Vijender and Sushil were overlooked for the Padma awards.
"I do not want to reflect in the past. I am thankful to the media that they raised our issue and thanks to the sports ministry for recognising our performance," he said.