Padma Shri for Mouma Das, five other athletes

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Mouma Das

New Delhi: Veteran table tennis player Mouma Das and the legendary PT Usha’s coach Madhavan Nambiar were among six sportspersons awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Government of India on the eve of the country’s 72nd Republic Day.

Besides Mouma and the great athletics coach, better known as OM Nambiar, former India women’s basketball team captain P Anitha, long-distance runner Sudha, former Indian wrestler Virender Singh and para athlete KY Venkatesh have also been honoured with the country’s fourth highest civilian award in the sports category.

Every year, the award winners are announced on the eve of Republic Day. The Padma awardees are felicitated by the President of India. Mouma, who won the Arjuna Award in 2013, became only the second table tennis player after Achanta Sharath Kamal to win the Padma Shri. Sharath won the recognition in 2019.

“I became mother in December 2019 and didn’t get to play after that because of the COVID pandemic. This honour will give me extra motivation to comeback stronger and win more laureuls for the country,” Mouma, who won multiple Commonwealth and South Asian Games medals, said.

Sudha, who was awarded the Arjuna in 2012, is the second-most renowned athlete to bag the recognition. She is an Indian Olympic athlete in the 3000 metres steeplechase event. A national record holder in the event, she has represented India at international events since 2005.