For the first time in the history of Indian sports, the name of a woman athlete – six-time world champion boxer M C Mary Kom – has been nominated for the esteemed Padma Vibhushan award, after Bharat Ratna the country’s second-highest civilian honour, by Sports ministry. Mary was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 2013 and Padma Shri in 2006.
Reigning world champion, badminton star P V Sindhu, has got the ministry’s nomination for the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third-highest civilian award. Sindhu nominated for the Padma Bhushan in 2017 but failed to reach the final list of awardees. She had received the Padma Shri in 2015.
The Padma Vibhushan has been awarded to 3 male sportspersons in the past – chess wizard Viswanathan Anand (2007), cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar (2008) and mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (2008), who received the award posthumously.
Besides Mary Kom and Sindhu, another 7 women in this year’s list – all nominated for Padma Shri are – wrestler Vinesh Phogat, table tennis star Manika Batra, T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, hockey captain Rani Rampal, former shooter Suma Shirur and mountaineer twin sisters, Tashi and Nungshi Malik.
The recommendations have been transferred to the Padma awards committee in the ministry of home affairs (MHA). It will declare the names of the chosen awardees on the eve of the Republic Day celebrations – January 25, 2020.
In April 2016 Mary Kom, 36, was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha on the recommendation of the ruling BJP government, is looking to qualify for her second Olympic – the 2020 Games – after securing a historic bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. Late last year, the Manipuri boxer had clamped the world title in the 48kg category at home for the record sixth time.
Recently Rio Olympics silver medallist Sindhu became the first Indian to win a World Championship title, defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-7 21-7 in Basel, Switzerland.