Paes, Gopichand, Yuvraj, Dipika get Padma awards

New Delhi: Tennis star Leander Paes and badminton player-turned-coach Pullela Gopichand were Saturday conferred the Padma Bhushan while cricketer Yuvraj Singh and squash queen Dipika Pallikal were among seven Padma Shri awardees announced on the eve of the 65th Republic Day.

Anjum Chopra (women’s cricketer), Sunil Dabas (kabaddi), Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu and Mamta Sodha (mountaineering) and H. Boniface Prabhu (wheelchair tennis) are the others who will get Padma Shri.

The Padma awards, India’s highest civilian honour, will be presented by the president at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhavan around March-April.

Paes, winner of 14 Grand Slam titles (eight doubles and six mixed doubles), has already been honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (1996-97), Arjuna Award (1990) and Padma Shri (2001).

The 40-year-old is one of the best doubles players in the world. When playing singles, he made India proud by winning the men’s singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Gopichand, a former All England champion, too has been honoured with the Khel Ratna (2001), Arjuna Award (1999) and Padma Shri (2005). He got the Dronacharya Award in 2009 for excellence in coaching. Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap are some of his proteges.

Yuvraj and Dipika won the Arjuna Award in 2012.