The Indian Union government on Monday named six sportspersons and retired coach O.M. Nambiar for the prestigious Padma Shri award for 2021. Interestingly, no cricketer has been chosen for the accolade this year.
Nambiar, 89, is the famous coach of legendary woman athlete P.T. Usha. In 1985, Nambiar was honoured with the Dronacharya Award, the highest accolade for coaches.
Sudha Singh, 36, who holds the national record in 3,000 m steeplechase and gold medallist at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games was also among the winners, as was table tennis star Mouma Das, 36, who won multiple medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in Australia.
Age: 36 years (West Bengal)
Sport: Table tennis
Achievements: She was a member of the Indian team -- also comprising Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar, Pooja Sahasrabudhe - that won the women's team gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. She, along with Manika, also clinched the women's doubles silver in Gold Coast. Mouma and Manika reached the quarterfinals of the doubles of the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships, becoming the first Indian pair to do so. She competed at the 2004 and 2016 Olympic Games, in Athens and Rio, respectively. Born in Narkeldanga, Kolkata, she has been representing India in international competitions since the early 2000s. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2013.
Age: 35 years (Tamil Nadu)
Achievements: She represented Indian basketball team for 18 years (2000 to 2017), and captain it as well. She is the first and only Indian woman to have played nine Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championships on the trot in India colours. Besides, she also played in the 2006 Commonwealth Games 2006 and the 2010 Asian Games. On the national front, she has a record of 30 medals of various hues in the National Championships. She has since turned to coaching.
Age: 41 years (Arunachal Pradesh)
She has scaled Mount Everest five times. Out of these, she reached the summit twice in a single season -- within five days, to be precise -- in May 2011. Born in Bomdila, West Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh, she was featured in the Limca Book of World Records in 2012, and in 2017 she won the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2017 -- India's highest adventure award -- for her historic Mount Everest feats.
Age: 89 years (Kerala)
Sport: Athletics coach
Achievements: The grand old man from Kerala is best known for being the coach of PT Usha, whom he moulded into a world class athlete -- first as a sprinter who later excelled as a 400 metre hurdler. She came agonisingly close to winning an Olympic Games bronze in 400 metres hurdles, but finished fourth with an Asian record time of 55.42 seconds in Los Angeles in 1984.
Age: 36 years (Uttar Pradesh)
A national record holder in 3,000 m steeplechase, she won gold at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and a silver at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in the event. She won gold at the 2017 Asian Championships, having clinched silver in 2011, 2013, and 2019 competitions. Born in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, she has represented India in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Following her gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games, she was awarded the Manyawar Shri Kanshiram Ji International Sports Award by the Uttar Pradesh government. She was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2012.
Age: 34 years (Haryana)
Sport: Wrestling (deaf category)
He has won three gold medals and bronze at the Deaflympics, an International Olympic Committee sanctioned event for deaf athletes. He won his first gold in the 84kg division at the 2005 Melbourne Deaflympics and then bronze at the 2009 Taiwan Games. He then shifted to 74kg and won gold at the 2013 and 2017 Deaflympics. He also won gold, silver, and bronze at three World Deaf Wrestling Championships. He was conferred the Arjuna Award in July 2015.
Age: 50 years (Karnataka)
Sport: Paralympic athlete
He represented India at the first International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Berlin in 1994 and has won medals in multiple sports such as athletics, basketball, hockey, volleyball, football, and badminton. He won his first international gold in shot put at a multi-disability championship held in Australia. He then became the first Indian to participate in the World Dwarf Games in 2005. The achievement led to his name appearing in the Limca Book of World Records.