Bajrang Punia has been decorated with the Civilian Order Padma Shri by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind.
The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games gold-medallist wrestler is among the nine sportspersons and 112 distinguished achievers of highest order to be decorated with the prestigious Padma Awards.
The awardees come from the fields of civilian service like education, sports, art, social service etc. The awards have been distributed in two sets of 56 persons at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi today (Monday). The other 56 will be decorated on March 16 (Saturday).
Bajrang Punia, Sharath Kamal and Harika Dronavalli were among the first batch to receive the honour from the President.
Punia, who won back to back gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year, has also bagged a silver medal at World Championships and a bronze medal at the Asian Championships last year.
Table Tennis ace Kamal had a stellar 2018 as he bagged as many as four medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. He won an elusive gold medal in the Men’s team event and captured silver and bronze medals in Men’s Double, Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles categories respectively.
Indian Kabaddi team captain Ajay Thakur was also honoured with the Padma Shri for his elite services to the game. India won the Kabaddi Masters tournament in Dubai last year under his leadership.
Punia last year has been in avoidable headlines after being denied sports highest honour Rajiv Khel Ratna in spite of his Asian Games and Commonwealth Games performance. Perturbed with the abject apathy of the authorities, the ace wrestler had contemplated taking the legal route to protect his interest. He, however, later changed his mind and calmly moved out of the controversy.
The fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri carries a citation, certificate and a medallion given under the hand and the seal of the President of India.