Sushil Kumar is an ecstatic man after being named as one of the recipients of this year's Padma Shri award and the ace wrestler said the recent recognition will spur him to better his Beijing feat in the 2012 London Olympics.
World champion wrestler Sushil Kumar, star cricketer VVS Laxman and ace shooter Gagan Narang were among the seven sportspersons who were today honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri Award for their contribution in their respective sports.
Besides Laxman, Sushil and Gagan, the other four recipients of the country's fourth highest civilian award were weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, discus thrower Krishna Poonia, para jumper Shital Mahajan and mountaineer Harbhajan Singh.
Sushil, who won a bronze medal in 66kg freestyle competition in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the award will inspire him to achieve many more feats for his country.
"It is a proud come moment for me and my family. I am really very happy. I am delighted that my hard work paid off. The award has come as blessings for me from my elders and countrymen," the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medallist told PTI.
"It (the award) has put additional responsibility on me going into the London Olympics. But it will inspire me to come up with a better performance than Beijing in the London Olympics," said Sushil, who missed the Guangzhou Asian Games due to neck and shoulder injury.
A gloom of disappointment can be felt in Sushil's voice when enquired about how tough it was to miss last year's Asian Games.
"It was tough for me but in the end it was a wise decision. The injury was troubling me for quite some and it got aggravated during the Commonwealth Games.
"So, the Wrestling Federation (WFI) and my coaches asked me to take rest because if the injury flares up it can affect my preparation for the London Olympics," he said.
Sushil shot into the limelight by bagging the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics -- the first by an Indian since K D Jadhav's bronze medal-winning feat at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
He then won the 2010 World Wrestling Championships in Moscow and clinched gold in the Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games, both in Delhi last year.
A 2005 Arjuna awardee, Sushil received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country's highest honour for achievement in sports, in 2009.