Mary Kom, Sarita Devi - recipients of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award

     Manipuri women boxers, four-time world champion M C Mary Kom and L Sarita Devi, were recently awarded with the country's highest sporting honour the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and Arjuna award 2009, respectively. President Pratibha Patil conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on MC Mary Kom on August 29, for her success, which is a testament of her determination, perseverance and 'never say die' spirit. "I began my career in 2000 and it's almost ten years now and I believe this award is because of my continuous good performance," said Mary Kom. Mary Kom hails from Kangathei village, Moirang Lamkhai in Manipur and has several achievements under her belt. At the national level, she has grabbed ten gold medals, and in the international arena, she has collected 14 gold and two silver medals.Apart from this, she had been bestowed with seven titles including the Arjuna Award, the Padmashree and the Indian Real Heroes Award. While, 24-year-old L. Sarita Devi received the Arjuna award for winning a silver medal in her maiden appearance in the Asian Women's Boxing Championship (AIBA). She also participated in fifteen other tournaments, winning seven gold, three silver and three bronze medals. "I feel happy. I had applied for the award three years back but I didn't get it. I think, I'm getting it a little late but I'm happy to receive the award this year. It has come as an encouragement for me to perform in future," said L. Sarita Devi. Sarita Devi works out 5-6 hours a day to stay fit, and she now wants to share her experience with other budding boxers in Manipur and guide them in their endeavor. Her achievements have made her near and dear ones proud, especially her husband who supports her wholeheartedly. "When we heard that she is getting the Arjuna Award, I felt really happy and emotional. It gave me an immense satisfaction that finally the fruit of her labor has paid off. I am really proud of her," said Thoiba Singh, husband of Sarita Devi. Both the boxers are at the present looking forward to competing in the next Olympic games.

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