Tamil Thalaivas skipper Ajay Thakur joined kabaddi folklore as he was among the 19 athletes that received the Arjuna Award from President Ram Nath Kovind in Delhi on Thursday. This was Thakur's second national honour of 2019, after he was conferred the Padma Shri in January.
Thakur is one of only four players to have scored over 800 total points in vivo Pro Kabaddi, alongside 'Record-Breaker' Pardeep Narwal, 'Showman' Rahul Chaudhari and Deepak Niwas Hooda. He has also represented India in multiple international tournaments and captained the national side in the Dubai Masters and the Asian Games in 2018.
"I am very happy because this award is very significant for us," Thakur said. "Because when a player starts his career, he has a dream of representing his country and that they get honoured with such an award. I have been with the Indian team for about 15 years, and I have been playing for this award ever since, hoping I would be able to get it someday."
Thakur celebrated winning the Arjuna Award with a masterful display and a Super 10 against Bengal Warriors on Thursday.
President Kovind confers Arjuna Award, 2019 upon Shri Ajay Thakur for his achievements in Kabaddi.— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 29, 2019
🔹Captain of men's Kabaddi Team winning Bronze Medal in Asian Games, 2018
🔹 Captain of men's Kabaddi Team winning Gold Medal in Asian Championship, 2017 pic.twitter.com/DpjmVj9pLH
Thakur became the 35th kabaddi player to receive the honour, joining the likes of teammate Manjeet Chhillar and vivo Pro Kabaddi legends like Anup Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Jasvir Singh and the captain of Jaipur Pink Panthers' triumphant Season 1 team, Navneeth Gautam. Current vivo Pro Kabaddi coaches like Patna Pirates' Ram Mehar Singh, Bengal Warriors' BC Ramesh and Bengaluru Bulls' Randhir Singh Sehrawat have also won the prestigious Arjuna Award during their playing years.
In the same ceremony, former Haryana Steelers coach Rambir Singh Khokhar too was honoured as he was conferred the Dronacharya Award for his coaching achievements in the sport.
President Kovind confers Dronacharya Award, 2019 (Life Time) upon Shri Rambir Singh Khokhar for his achievements in Kabaddi coaching.— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 29, 2019
He has trained many Kabaddi players like Shamsher Singh, Ajay Thakur, Tirath Raj, Om Praksh Narwal, Anil Kumar, and Surender Singh. pic.twitter.com/b6rvquH62t