KOZHIKODE: Badminton star Valiyaveettil Diju, who was recommended for the coveted Arjuna Award the other day, was accorded a warm reception at the Kozhikode Railway Station on Wednesday.
Sports lovers joined in to congratulate the Ramanattukara native at a function arranged by the Kozhikode District Badminton Association. The shuttler was returning from Manipal Hospital after a surgery. KDBA president Musambil PM and joint secretary A V Binoy led the way as several players from the district lined up to greet the 33-year-old.
“I am delighted to see so many people coming to receive me in such a manner,” Diju told reporters. Having partnered Jwala Gutta in numerous international wins in mixed doubles, his chief claim to the Arjuna lay in having been part of the teams that won a Commonwealth Games silver (2010) and a bronze (2006) each in the mixed team event.
On Tuesday, there was an air of suspense and surprise for Diju as news channels flashed his name alongside the Arjuna Award winners for 2014. “It was a dream for me. It makes me extremely proud and happy because awards are always a motivation. I it is the first Arjuna in this discipline for Kerala since George Thomas got it over 10 years ago,” said Diju, who had also played in the 2012 London Olympics.