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Sridhar Wins Top Indian Award

India's leading male badminton player Anup Sridhar has been honoured with one of the country's highest sporting accolades.

Sridhar joined some of India's top sporting names in receiving an Arjuna Award at the Rashtrapi Bhawan venue in Delhi.

He was one of 11 Indian athletes who received an Arjuna Award, with the main Rajiv Gandhi Khen Ratna Award going to Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Sridhar was delighted to have been among such illustrious company in Indian sports, saying only that "the best is yet to come".

India has produced world-class badminton players in the past, most notably former All England men's singles champions Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand.

The Bangalore-born 25-year-old is India's Thomas Cup captain and enjoyed one of his best years on the tour of the past year.

He ended 2007 as the highest ranked Indian at 25 in the world, rising to a career high of 24 in early 2008.

In terms of tournament play, he reached the semi-finals at the German Open as well as the Asian Championships and the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open.

One of his best performances came with his quarter-final appearance at the 2007 World Championships.

That was when he beat then Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, of Indonesia, in an epic match that was one of the longest in the tournament. His victory was also rated among the top-10 Indian sporting performances of the year.

He launched his 2008 campaign in fine style by winning the prestigious Pramod Mahajan All-India ranking tournament in New Delhi. He continued his excellent form by reaching the last 16 of the Malaysia Super Series where he lost to South Korea's eventual champion Lee Hyun-il.

Sridhar also played at the Beijing Olympics last month. He beat Marco Vasconcelos of Portugal in the first round 21-16, 21-14 but was beaten in the round of 16 by Japan's Shoji Sato 21-13, 21-17.

Sridhar, though, isn't finished yet and there is still plenty of potential for him to show what he can do in the major championships.

Certainly, he has two excellent models in Padukone and Gopichand. If he can emulate them, then the awards will continue rolling in.

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