Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju conferred Arjuna Awards to tennis player Rohan Bopanna and women cricketer Smriti Mandhana on Tuesday. The duo did not receive the Arjuna Awards during the Award ceremony held last year on September 25 in Rashtrapati Bhawan, as they were out of the country taking part in international tournaments. Also Read - IPL Women's T20 Challenge: Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur Named as Captains; BCCI Announces Squads And Full Schedule For Women's T20 Tournament

Bopanna who won the tennis gold medal in men’s double category in Asian Games 2018 was awarded the Arjuna Award. “It is very proud and great feeling for me. Especially when you are recognized by country Arjuna Awards winner. I’m very happy to receive this (award). Sports minister conferred me the award and he is very concerned about the sports in India,” Bopanna told ANI. Also Read - Ammunition Will be Delivered at Your Doorstep: Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju Tells Shooters

On the other hand, Mandhana was the ICC women’s player of the year 2018. Last year she has scored 669 runs in 12 ODIs and 622 runs in 25 T20Is. “It was declared 8-10 months back and I was really excited and happy that something that I have worked hard for is been recognised through Arjuna Award. To get it today is a great feeling and hopefully I will continue performing well and winning matches for India,” Mandhana told ANI.

Rijiju praised both the players for their contribution to the sports and country. “Today I gave awards to Bopanna and Mandhana as they missed during the award distribution ceremony last year due to their international events,” Rijiju told reporters “Bopanna is practising for Tokyo Olympic 2020 and by giving award I want to keep his morale high. While Mandhana is well known in international cricket. She is the best batsman in the world. I want to congratulate her and want to continue doing the same,” he added.

Scheme of Arjuna Awards provides the awardees who are not able to come to receive the award during the presentation ceremony may later receive the same from the minister-in-charge for Youth Affairs and Sports.