Call it a height of humility or a depth of honesty -- Mirabai Chanu's candid admission that she actually expected Arjuna Award, and not Khel Ratna -- comes as a breeze in a season of torrid heartburns, allegations and threats to move Court for awards denials.
She lifts double her weight and triple her size but her words had even more power & meaning. "I am pleasantly surprised to get Khel Ratna. I just expected Arjuna award," Mirabai told Republic TV after receiving the prestigious Khel Ratna on Tuesday evening alongside Indian captain Virat Kohli.
While feeling sorry about the other deserving candidates for the highest award like Neeraj Chopra, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, Mirabai sounded confident about them getting their due soon. "All of them deserved it. I feel bad for them. But they will probably get next year," she added.
When asked whether she thought the award has come a bit too early for her, Mirabai stated, "I may have got it a bit early but that does not mean I didn't deserve it. I have got it on merit as no Indian has ever won a World Championship gold in weightlifting."
Undoubtedly, Mirabai is the third biggest name in Indian weightlifting after Kunjarani Devi and Karnam Malleswari -- both also received Khel Ratna -- and she is still young and can compete for another 5 to 6 years. But she has to remain injury free.
"I missed the Asian Games due to injury. I am now recuperating well and will be in action by the end of this year. Since there is not much competition next year, I will save myself for Tokyo Olympics," she revealed her plans.
On being asked what was her ultimate aim since she has already bagged the top most awards, Mirabai said the most expected lines. "My next target is an Olympic medal. Its tough but not impossible." Expected lines but coming from her, one just cant help but believe in her.
President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the national sports awards at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday to celebrate the occasion of National Sports Day.