Winning the national award is a major achievement for any sportsperson.
The Arjuna Award is one of the most prestigious Indian national awards and the second-highest honour in sports. It is given to sporting personalities for outstanding achievement in the field of sports. It is only second to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, which is the highest sporting honour in India.
For a sportsperson regardless of their game, receiving the Arjuna Award is by far one of the biggest honours. While winning major domestic and international trophies is an aim for every individual in sports, winning the Arjuna Award is a dream. Several high-profile sportspersons have won the award and some of them are married to each other.
In a few rare cases, both spouses are winners of the Arjuna Award due to their excellent achievements in their respective fields. Here is a look at Indian couples that have won the prestigious national award:
Jwala Gutta (2011) and Chetan Anand (2006)
Both Jwala Gutta and Chetan Anand are winners of the Arjuna Award. The badminton stars are popular figures and winners of several major tournaments. While Jwala Gutta won the national award in 2011, her husband Chetan Anand won it in 2006.
Jwala Gutta won a bronze at the 2011 World Championships and a gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games among many other accolades. As for Chetan Anand, he has won many tournaments as well, including a silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The pair were married from 2005 to 2011.
Saina Nehwal (2009) and Parupalli Kashyap (2012)
Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap are another badminton couple that has won the Arjuna Award. The former won it in 2009 and the latter three years later in 2012. Interestingly, the pair married recently in 2018, after winning several major domestic and international honours.
Saina Nehwal is a former World No.1 player in women’s singles and a medal winner in various prestigious events such as the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and more. She was also the recipient of the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award in 2010. Parupalli Kashyap has also won multiple medals, including gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
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Poulomi Ghatak (2009) and Soumyadeep Roy (2005)
Poulomi Ghatak and Soumyadeep Roy are both notable figures in table tennis. While the former won the Arjuna Award in 2009, the latter received it in 2005. They are interestingly the third couple to both win the national award for table tennis.
Poulomi Ghatak won three junior national championships and was also a silver medallist during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. On the other hand, her spouse Roy is currently working as a coach and made headlines due to match-fixing allegations.
Vandana Rao (1987) and Joaquim Carvalho (1986)
Joaquim Carvalho was a popular hockey player while Vandana Rao was an athletics star back in the day. The former won the Arjuna Award in 1986 and his wife won it a year later in 1987.
As a key member of the men’s hockey team, Carvalho represented the nation in many events such as the Olympics. He won silver at the 1982 Asian Games. As for Vandana Rao, she won gold at the 1986 Asian Games and represented the country in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Monalisa Baruah Mehta (1987) and Kamlesh Mehta (1985)
Monalisa Baruah Mehta and Kamlesh Mehta are one of the three table tennis couples to win the Arjuna Award. The former won it in 1987 and the latter won the national award two years prior in 1985.
Monalisa Mehta hails from Assam and is regarded as one of the finest sportspersons to come from the state. As for Kamlesh Mehta, he won the national championships eight times and finished second on the other three occasions. He also represented the country in other major events such as the World Championships, Asian Championships and the Olympics.
Bhagyashree (1987) and Praveen Thipsay (1984)
Praveen Thipsay and Bhagyashree are the only couple from the sport of chess to feature in this exclusive list. They were fabulous chess players back in the day and won the Arjuna Award three years apart.
Praveen won it in 1984 and his wife Bhagyashree won the national award in 1987. The former is a Grandmaster while the latter holds the title of Woman International Master.
Shiny Abraham (1984) and Wilson Cherian (1988)
Shiny Abraham and Wilson Cherian both won the Arjuna Award back in the 1980s. The former won the award in 1984 while the latter won it four years later in 1988.
An Olympian, Shiny Abraham was a sprinter back in the day and won a total of 18 gold and two silver medals from the seven South Asian Federation (SAF) events. Whereas Wilson Cherian was an exceptional swimmer who also represented the country in various international events.
Kaity Chargeman Khodaiji (1971) and Farrokh R Khodaiji (1967)
Both Kaity Khodaiji and Farrokh Khodaiji were brilliant table tennis players. The former was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1971 and the latter received it four years prior in 1967. The husband and wife were the first spouses to both win the prestigious national award.
Both are legends when it comes to table tennis and are inspiration for upcoming players in this field. Kaity was a national level champion on three occasions while her husband Farrokh won 20 of his 25 World Championships ties. He was also the winner of a national championship.