Goan chess player Bhakti Kulkarni will receive the Arjuna Award, the country’s second-highest sporting honour, from President Droupadi Murmu on November 30 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
The International Master is the first woman from the State to receive the award. Only two Goans have been bestowed with the Arjuna Award earlier -- Padma Shri Brahmanand Shankhwalkar (1998) and Bruno Coutinho (2001), both footballers.
Bhakti is among 25 athletes, including fellow chess player R Praggnanandhaa, shuttlers Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, woman boxer Nikhat Zareen, athletes Eldhose Paul, Avinash Sable, who have been nominated for the Arjuna Award this year.
Table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal will be conferred with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, the country’s top sporting honour. The awardees will receive their awards from the President at a specially organised function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
For Bhakti, the award comes as due recognition for her performances as one of India's top women chess stars. It also caps a memorable year for the 30-year-old after she helped India win a bronze medal at the 44th Chess Olympiad held in Chennai. The first Woman Grandmaster from Goa is a pioneer of the sport in the State having won multiple titles in her career, including the Asian Chess Women's Championship.