Ace Indian badminton player and World No. 2 Saina Nehwal will receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country's highest sporting honour, from President Pratibha Patil on National Sports Day on August 29 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.
The 15-member panel on Friday took a unanimous decision to confer her with the award.
This award is due to hat-trick of wins clinching the Indonesian Open in 2009, the Singapore Open title in June, 2010, and the Indonesian Open a week later, which made her the World No. 2 after demolishing the China supremacy.
Reacting to the news, Saina told CNN-IBN: "My father is very happy with my achievement. I got to know from him (about the award). I was expecting this. This is a lot more responsibility and I have to work harder now."
"My parents struggled for me, my father borrowed money from his friends to end me out. My parents believed in me. I am really happy and have no regrets. I am really happy for being World No. 2 and the Khel Ratna," she said, adding that her favourite player is Roger Federer and that "I have learned a lot from him".
Saina's coach and former All England Badminton Champion Pullela Gopichand praised Saina for her hard work.
"It is a lot of hard work that she has put in. She has performed really well and deserves this award. This is great news for the whole of Indian badminton," Gopichand told CNN-IBN
They panel on Friday also announced names of the 15 Arjuna awardees for this year, who will be conferred with the honour on the same day. August 29 is the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand and is celebrated as National Sports Day.