Abhinav Bindra, Aishwarya Rai and Dhoni among Padma winners | india | Hindustan Times
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Abhinav Bindra, Aishwarya Rai and Dhoni among Padma winners

Indian captain M S Dhoni, spinner Harbhajan Singh, actor Akshay Kumar, world billiards champion Pankaj Advani and former hockey player Balbir Singh Khullar are among Padma Shri winners this year, say sources. A combo picture of awardees of Ashok Chakra 2009.Bindra and Bhajji get lucky too.B'wood on Padma list.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2009 01:22 IST

India's first ever individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra has been awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh, cueist Pankaj Advani and hockey player Balbir Singh Khullar will receive Padma Shri awards.

Bindra did the nation proud when he became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold in individual event in Beijing Olympics in 10-metre Air Rifle.

"I am indeed humbled by the honour bestowed upon me by the Honourable President of India. This is an honour not just for me, but for the sportsmen and women of India, whom I represent."

"I am sure the honour will inspire more sports persons of India to win gold medals at Olympics in future," Bindra said.

Bindra's talent came to the fore early when he became the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games at the age of 15. Bindra shot into limelight by winning a bronze in the 2001 Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score. He then went on to win gold in 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Bindra became the first Indian shooter to win a World Championship gold and was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2001.

In the 2004 Athens Olympics, despite breaking the Olympic record Bindra failed to win a medal. But he delivered in Beijing where he came off a tense final round, hitting a near perfect 10.8 to shoot gold.

For Dhoni, the rise to the top of cricketing world has been phenomenal.

The Jharkhand boy, who burst onto the international pitch in 2004 as a power-hitter with flowing locks and rock-star look, has risen to become the captain of the Indian team in a short time.

He has shown a matured head and a cool temperament to finish off matches.

Dhoni's captainship ability came as a fresh air as he led India to an incredible victory in the first ever Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

Dhoni was then handed the captaincy of One-day team and his faith in youngsters was justified when India won the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia in 2008.

After Anil Kumble retired from international cricket, Dhoni was given the reins of the Test side too. India won the home series against Australia, beating them in Mohali and Nagpur under his captaincy.

Pankaj Advani has already five world titles to his credit, much more than any Indian cueist can ever boast of at a young age of 23. In 2003, he became the second youngest and only the second Indian after Om Agarwal to win the IBSF World amateur snooker crown.

He won the IBSF World Billiards Championship in 2005 in both time and points format and repeated the feat in Bangalore last year.

He also won a gold medal at Doha Asian Games in 2006. he was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2004 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006.

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is an integral part of the team. He has 314 wickets in 74 Tests and 202 wickets in 180 matches.

Veteran hockey player Balbir Singh won the award for his contribution to Indian hockey. He won the Arjuna Award in 2000.

First Published: Jan 25, 2009 20:47 IST