PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič presented state awards to 18 leading Slovak cultural, scientific, education, and sports figures at a ceremony at Bratislava Castle in anticipation of Slovak Constitution Day on September 1.
The Order of Ľudovít Štúr, first class, was given to former tennis player and Slovak Davis Cup team captain Miloš Mečíř, diplomat Juraj Králik, and doctors Juraj Payer, František Makai and Ján Slezák. Another award was given posthumously to non-fiction writer Vojtech Zamarovský, who died recently.
Second class awards were presented to tennis players Dominik Hrbatý and Karol Kučera, actress Soňa Valentová-Hasprová, physicist Július Krempaský, IT specialist Milan Dado, Slovak Agricultural University Chancellor Imrich Okenka, doctor Ivan Klačanský, ethnologist Ján Podolák, writer Jozef Bob, and one of the participants in the Prague Spring events of 1968, Božena Fuková.
Third class awards went to para-Olympian Ján Riapoš and tennis player Michal Mertiňák.