New Delhi, Jan 27: Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar is disappointed after being ignored for the prestigious Padma awards.
"Last week an official from the Sports Ministry informed us that I and Vijender have been shortlisted for Padma Shri winners. But I was shocked when I heard that both of us were ignored for this prestigious award," the wrestler said on Monday.
"It really hurts when your performance at the highest level goes unrecognised. This shows that Olympic sports in the country is not taken seriously and only cricketers get recognition."
"Do we still have to plead for recognition even after winning Olympic medals?" Sushil wondered.
Speaking exclusively to TIMES NOW, Vijender Kumar said, "My dreams are shattered. The selection committee should be asked about what were the criteria, terms and conditions which we could not satisfy. I think people here love only cricket, not boxing and wrestling. If we don't get recognition then we will leave the sport to do something else."
Meanwhile, Akhil Kumar another Indian boxer too expressed disappointment and said that other athletes too deserve recognition.
Sushil's coach Yahbir Singh said they were expecting the Padma award for the wrestler.
"We were surprised after learning that Sushil and Vijender were not selected for the award. This is how we treat our champions?," he asked.
Though it was India's most successful Olympic performance ever, only shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won the nation's maiden individual Olympic gold medal, has been conferred with the Padma Bhushan.
Cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh, too, are in the list of Padma Shri awards, which has not gone well with the wrestling and boxing fraternity.
"Cricketers are given all the awards. What have they done this year to deserve the award? Even the world body of boxing has recognised India as upcoming power in the sport and it is a shame that we are treated in this manner at home," said a boxing official, declining to be named.