These are good times for Yuvraj Singh. And he acknowledges it with a “one of the memorable days of my life” comment. His successful fight against cancer, preceded by World Cup glory and followed by the Arjuna Award recognition from the government, has meant the world to this gifted all-rounder.

Yuvraj played a big role in India winning the 2011 World Cup at Mumbai and has grown in stature as a youth icon.

Huge inspiration

“It’s a very prestigious award and bigger than anything that I have achieved in life. I was nominated twice but couldn’t get it for whatever reasons. This award will give me lot of courage and strength to give my best. It will be a huge inspiration really and I take it as a feather in my cap. It brings such respect.

“I feel proud of now being known as an Arjuna Awardee. I am also excited because the President presented the award and it means a lot. It was a momentous occasion for me and my family,” said Yuvraj.

The cricketer, who last played for India in November 2011 — Test match against the West Indies — insisted the function would remain unforgettable for him personally. “In India, cricketers are fortunate that they get such adulation and attention. But I know sportsmen from other disciplines work very hard, probably harder than we do.

“Life is tougher for them compared to cricketers and that’s why they deserve greater accolades. They are very special achievers who do their country proud and I felt privileged to be in such company.”

Respect for others

Elaborating his “respect” for other sportsmen, the 30-year-old Yuvraj said, “In cricket, we play one country at a time. These champions have performed at the Olympics where more than 200 nations compete. It can be highly competitive because the Olympics comes once in four years and every participant aims to give his best. So there is lot of determination and lot of focus too.”

Yuvraj was “thrilled” to be in the company of Olympians. “They made us proud at London. Vijay Kumar was just superb and deserved to win gold. Mary Kom is a gem. What a star she is! A real icon for all mothers!

“My favourite is Saina Nehwal. She is young and yet very mature, her fitness is too good and I reckon she is the super athlete of Indian sports. I can see her winning an Olympic gold in the future. Our wrestlers (Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt) motivate you to give your best. I have become a fan of Sushil, what an achievement, a bronze and silver in Olympics. Yogeshwar looks the bravest of all.”

Silent battle

He is not normally given to expressing his anguish. He can be ecstatic at a conquest on the cricket field and demonstrate his feelings. But he has fought his major off-the-field battles silently. “Cancer was frightening, but I am glad it is over now. I know how people appreciated my World Cup performance (Man-of-the-tournament) and how they supported me in my battle against cancer. I can never forget their affection.”

On his immediate tasks, Yuvraj said, “I am looking forward to the T20 matches against New Zealand. I feel like I am going to play my first international game. It feels nice to have Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and (Lakshmipathy) Balaji back in the Indian team. It will be great to be back in the Indian team.”

The World Cup final was his last One-Day International.

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