New Delhi, Jul 30: Ace Indian shuttler and world number two Saina Nehwal has been chosen for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award by the panel headed by sprinter queen P T Usha on Friday.
"I am ecstatic", Saina said, reacting to the surprised inclusion. "I will work hard to bring more laurels for India"
Saina's coach Pullela Gopichand also expressed happiness and hoped Saina can continue her good work for the country. "This is just a beginning she will bring more laurels. I am happy that she has got that award which aspired to", said the former All England champion and national coach.
Saina made a meteoric rise following her back-to-back title triumphs, three in three weeks, this year.
Saina's next engagement will be in the World badminton Championship in Paris next month, before playing the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
Last year Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna was awarded to Olympic bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh, wrestler Sushil Kumar and four-time world champion woman pugilist M.C. Mary Kom.
Saina Nehwal, who became world number 2 on July 15 this year, was the first Indian girl to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships.
Saina Nehwal made history on June 21, 2009, becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesia Open with a stunning victory over higher-ranked Chinese Wang Lin in Jakarta.