India’s first Formula One driver, on Monday, also became the first from motor sports to get the Padma award. Narain Karthikeyan was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri along with cricketer Virender Sehwag, shuttler Saina Nehwal, boxer Vijender, hockey player Ignace Tirkey and cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar.
Karthikeyan made his F1 debut at the 2005 Australian GP with Jordan. He has since raced for India in the A1 GP and the Le Mans series.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled. It is a great day, not only in my life, but also for Indian motor sports,” said the 33-year-old in a statement.
“I have countless people to thank and credit for this achievement - first and foremost of which is my family, without whose unrelenting support, my career would not have taken the path it has.”
Sehwag has been the most consistent of India Test batsmen in recent times. The 31-year-old opener has more than 13,000 international runs under his belt.
“I am really honoured. To think that I will receive the award from the President is a great feeling,” he said in Mirpur, where he is playing in the second Test against Bangladesh.
Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender, who was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna last year, said he had expected to get it earlier. “But better late than never,” he added.
Saina termed the award as a “fantastic start to the year”.
“I am very happy that I got it a few months after getting the Arjuna Award. I would like to dedicate this to my parents and coaches,” she said. The award is a big boost for former India skipper Ignace Tirkey, who has been left out of the probables for the Hockey World Cup.
Besides Tendulkar, Achrekar has coached cricketers like Vinod Kambli, Pravin Amre, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar at his academy at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
PTI adds: Beijing Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar was sore at being overlooked. “I am deeply hurt. Will anyone tell me why I was not considered for the award?” he asked.