Former India captain MS Dhoni was on Thursday conferred with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, the country's third highest civilian award. Multiple billiards world champion Pankaj Advani was also chosen for the award on the eve of the country's Republic Day. Advani, 32, has ruled world billiards for several years. The Bangalore-based cueist has won 18 world titles. Ace cueist Pankaj had claimed the IBSF World Snooker Championship title in November last year.
Besides the duo, 2017 World Weightlifting Champion in the 48kg category, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu and former Asian Games gold medallist tennis player Somdev Devvarman were conferred with the Padma Shri award. Besides, ace men's singles shuttler Kidambi Srikanth also won the Padma Shri along side India's first Paralympic gold medalist, Murlikant Petkar.
Petkar won an individual gold medal in the 1972 Summer Paralympics, in Heidelberg, Germany. He set a world record in the 50 m freestyle swimming event, at 37.33 seconds. In the same games he participated in javelin, precision javelin throw and slalom. He was a finalist in all three events.
Dhoni has been the recipient of many awards, including the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 (the first player to win the award twice), the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007 and the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour in 2009.
Considered as the country's most successful cricket captain, Dhoni led India to two World Cup triumphs -- in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 held in South Africa in September 2007 and the 2011 ICC ODI World Cup. India also won ICC Champions Trophy under him. It was under his captaincy that India climbed to No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings in December 2009.
Just like Dhoni, Advani also has a distinguished career, having won gold twice in Asian Games in 2006 Doha and 2010 Guangzhou. He is also a multiple world-champion.
Currently ranked third in the BWF rankings, Srikkanth is looked upon as a future Olympic champion shuttler. The 24-year-old shuttler's real rise came last season when he won as many as six titles including four Super Series titles. He won the French Open, Denmark Open, Australian Open, Indonesia Open, India Open and China Open. A product of Pullela Gopichand badminton academy in Hyderabad, Srikkanth also finished runners-up in last year's Singapore Open.
Manipuri weightlifter Mirabai Chanu claim to fame includes silver medal in the women's 48kg weight class at the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow. But her real claim to fame came last year when she lifted a world record of 194kg in total (85 kg snatch and 109 kg clean & jerk) to win the gold in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships held at Anaheim, CA, United States.
(With PTI Inputs)