Can't describe the feeling in words, says Chhetri after being conferred with Padma Shri Award

"It's a huge honor and I cannot explain how it feels in words. I hope to keep working hard and be worthy of it (the award)," Sunil Chhetri told Sportstar after being conferred Padma Shri Award on Friday evening.

All the eight sportspersons who have been conferred with the Padma Shri Award (from left clockwise) Prashanti Singh (basketball), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi), Gautam Gambhir (cricket), Bajrang Punia (Wrestling), Sunil Chhetri (football), Bombayla Devi (archery), Sharath Kamal (table tennis) and Harika Dronavalli (chess).

India's most-capped footballer and the second-highest active goalscorer in the world, Sunil Chhetri is phlegmatic after being conferred with the Padma Shri Award.

"I'm happy and I'm feeling encouraged and motivated. It's a huge honor and I cannot explain how it feels in words. I hope to keep working hard and be worthy of it (the award)," Chhetri tells Sportstar on Friday evening.

"There are many people who have worked very hard on my career and to see them happy is a great feeling," he adds.

RELATED| Kamal, Chhetri Punia and Gambhir to receive Padma Shri Award

When asked if he'd rate this as the biggest award of his career, the 34-year-old says, "I hope not, I hope there are bigger ones to come! But yes, this is definitely one of them."

Sunil Chhetri is currently the second highest active goal-scorer in world football.   -  pti

 

While Chhetri is calm and composed, Indian kabaddi captain Ajay Thakur's voice is brimming with excitement. "I can't react to the news yet because I can't believe it! It's yet to sink in and I'm at a complete loss for words," he says.

Ajay was in fact fast asleep at a training camp when he received a phone call informing him of the award. "This is the biggest award of my career. All the sorrows of my life have been taken away by this award," he says.

Ajay Thakur (L) in action for Tamil Thalaivas in the ProKabaddi League.   -  The Hindu

 

Veteran wrestler Bajrang Punia, who clinched gold at the 2018 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and a silver in the World Wrestling Championships, says: "I was expecting this award. It's a big motivation for me as it has come before the Tokyo Olympics. After getting this, now I have to perform well in future events as well."

Bajrang Punia celebrates winning the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.   -  PTI

Former basketball captain Prashanti Singh was pleasantly surprised to get the Padma Shri Award. "It is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting it, even though I knew that my name has been recommended by the Uttar Pradesh State," she says.

"I wanted the Arjuna award. I had to really fight for everything in life. But, this award has come on its own. I am thrilled," continues Prashanti, who was bestowed the Arjuna award in 2017. She had also won the Rani Laxmibai bravery award in 2016.

"There is no criteria for applying for the Padma award. You have to be recommended. Uttar Pradesh State had recommended my name in the last couple of years also. There are not many prominent sports persons from the State. I am glad to be chosen for this prestigious award," she adds, after becoming the first basketball player to receive the honour.