Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist Vijender Singh has decided to stay back for the Khel Ratna awards ceremony to be held in the Capital on August 29.
The decision means Vijender would reach Milan, the venue for the World Championships, just in time for the weighing in!
“For a sportsman, it can’t get bigger than this,” Vijender told Hindustan Times on Tuesday. “Aisa mauka baar baar nahi aata. (It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come everyday). I don’t know about the others, but for me it’s the greatest honour I could have received for my achievement in the ring,” he said.
Earlier this year, Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni had given the Padma Shree awards function a miss, evoking a sharp response from sports minister MS Gill.
The Indian Boxing Federation had been in a fix on whether Vijender would be present during the awards ceremony.
“We even sent a request to the Sports Ministry requesting it to excuse him and coach Jaidev Bisht, who has been conferred the Droncharya Award, and hold a separate function for them,” said P.K. Muralidharan Raja, secretary of the federation. Since there was no reply from the ministry, the federation, in consultation with the pugilist and coach, decided to book a later flight.
“We will still reach on time,” said Vijender. “If I were to box on August 29 or 30, things would have been different. I will have time to settle down after reaching Milan.”
The boxing team will leave for Milan on August 27 and Vijender will take a flight late on August 29 after the function. “He won’t get enough time for acclimatisation, but he said he will manage,” said Raja.