Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra was on Sunday awarded the Padma Bhushan for his exploits in Beijing last year. Four other sportspersons, including cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, received the prestigious Padma Shri for achieving excellence in their respective fields. World billiards champion Pankaj Advani and former hockey player Balbir Singh Khullar were the other Padma Shri awardees.
Bindra, 26, became the first Indian to clinch an individual gold in the 108-year-old history of the quadrennial Games when he won the 10m air rifle event. Bangalore-based Advani has won the world billiards title thrice besides being a former snooker champion.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Bindra said, “I am humbled by the honour bestowed upon me by the President of India. I understand this is an honour not just for me, but the sportsmen and sportswomen of India whom I represent.
“By winning the first individual gold for the country at the Olympics, I had the privilege of graduating India and Indian sportspersons to the global sports arena in a big way,” said Bindra.
He said the honour would inspire more sportspersons to win medals at the Olympics. “I thank the President of India for the honour and all those who helped me attain gold at the Olympics.”