January 27, 2019

Prashanti Singh becomes the first basketball player to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award

Just when it seemed unlikely that her brilliant career could be exalted even higher, former Indian basketball captain Prashanti Singh from Varanasi has become the first basketball player in history to be handed the Padma Shri award! The Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian honour for Indian citizens and is handed annually on the Republic Day celebrations.

94 individuals from the fields of arts, medicine, science, sports, social work, social sciences, and more were conferred this year's Padma Shri on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Prashanti, who last year became only the third women to win the Arjuna Award in basketball two years ago, was among the eight sports stars named in this year's Padma Shri list. The rest included World Cup-winning cricketer Gautam Gambhir, India football captain Sunil Chhetri, World Championship silver medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia, Dronavalli Harika (Chess), Sharath Kamal (Table Tennis), Bombayla Devi Laishram (Archery), and Ajay Thakur (Kabaddi).

Singh, a 34-year-old former shooting guard for India's national team, is the most decorated women basketball player in India, holding the national record for most number of medals (22) in national championships for Delhi while she was an employee for MTNL. She has represented the national team in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games, and six FIBA Asia Women’s Championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), plus one more at the junior level.

Prashanti Singh is among the star-studded "Singh Sisters" of Varanasi, four of whom have represented India's national team and brought home numerous international and domestic honours.

Singh's Padma Shri award is a pleasant surprise, especially considering that there have been several great basketball players throughout Indian history in both Men's and Women's divisions - including Khushi Ram, Abbas Moontasir, Ajmer Singh, Geethu Anna Rahul, and many more who are still active - who have been deserving, but were never conferred this honour.

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