World number two and India's star shuttler Kidambi Srikanth on Thursday (November 2) thanked Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel, who nominated him for the Padma Shri Award.
A day before he officially reached his career-best second in rankings on the BWF ladder, the 24-year-old was treated to a "happy" news as Goel, on Wednesday (November 1) exercised his capacity of ex-Sports Minister to nominate Srikanth for the fourth highest civilian award in the country.
Despite the applications for the Padma Awards closing on September 15 earlier this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, recommending the shuttler's name. Notably, the nominations and recommendations (online only, on Padma Awards website) began on May 1, 2017. The awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day (January 26).
"I am very happy. I really thank Vijay Goel sir for recommending me. But again, it's up to the government to take the decision [make the final call on his nomination]," Srikanth told International Business Times, India.
Goel, in his letter, had insisted that it is "imperative" for the government to motivate the young sportsman, who is now touted as one of the best players in badminton circuit.
"He [Srikanth] is an idol for the youth of the country and millions of people have aspirations to see his achievements being recognised. Many people have approached me in the capacity of ex-Sports Minister to recommend his name for this year's Padma Shri award," Goel had written, as quoted by "Press Trust of India".
Meanwhile, fellow shuttler and Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu along with World Cup-winning Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni were recommended for Padma Bhushan Awards earlier this year. Notably, Srikanth won the Arjuna Award in 2015.
Dream run in 2017
Srikanth has had a dream year in 2017 as he has become only the fourth men's singles shuttler after Malaysia great Lee Chong Wei and Chinese superstars Lin Dan and Chen Long to win four of more Superseries titles in a calendar year. It all started when he won the prestigious Superseries Premier title in Indonesia and followed it up with a Superseries crown in Australia.
The Pullela Gopichand-ward failed to impress at the World Championships in August, but he quickly buckled up to win back-to-back titles in Denmark and France last month, which helped him achieve his career-best rankings.
'Looking forward to National Championships'
The Indian shuttler is now gearing up for 82nd Badminton National Championships - the seven-day event starting today (November 2) in Nagpur, which has seen a solid revamp after increase in prize money and betterment of infrastructure.
Notably, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) made it mandatory for players among top-50 spots in the BWF rankings to participate in the event and gave them direct entry to final rounds.
Srikanth, who last won the title in 2013, acknowledged the importance of the ongoing tournament and said he is excited about featuring in it. Notably, Srikanth along with world number 11 HS Prannoy, Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth have been handed direct entry to pre-quarterfinals of the tournament.
"It's a big event. I haven't played the senior national individual event for almost four years. So looking forward to it," Srikanth added.