India's cricket and hockey captains, Virat Kohli and P R Sreejesh, respectively, and Rio Olympic heroes, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar, are among eight sportspersons who are being awarded the Padma Shri this year. Rio Paralympics medallists Mariyappan Thangavelu and Deepa Malik, discus thrower Vikas Gowda and blind cricket team captain Shekhar Naik have also been honoured. The eight sportspersons were among 89 Padma Awardees announced by the government on the eve of the Republic Day. There were no sportspersons in the list of Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardees.
Virat Kohli, who has been in prolific form with the bat in recent times and is among the most feared batsmen in the world right now, took over as the captain of the Indian cricket team in all the three formats of the game after Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down as skipper of the limited-overs side earlier this month. He recently led the Indian team to a 2-1 win over England in a three-match ODI series.
Sakshi Malik won a bronze in the women's 58kg wrestling at the Rio Games, while Thangavelu and Deepa Malik bagged a gold and a silver in the men's high jump T-42 and women's shot put F53 categories, respectively, at the Rio Paralympics.
Dipa Karmakar finished fourth in women's vault gymnastic event in Rio Olympics while Sreejesh was the captain of the Indian hockey side that reached the quarterfinals of the Olympics.
Gowda, the reigning Commonwealth and Asian champion, failed to advance beyond the qualifying round in men's discus throw in Rio.
(With inputs from PTI and Tanima Biswas)