New Delhi/Bhubaneswar13/11/21:: Paralympics gold medallist shuttler from Odisha Pramod Bhagat, Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, Paralympics gold medallist Sumit Antil, and woman cricketer Mithali Raj along with eight other sportspersons were conferred the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award — the country’s highest sporting honour — at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Saturday. While an unprecedented 35 athletes were honoured with the Arjuna Award in a glittering ceremony.
Loud applause greeted Chopra, the first Indian to win an athletics gold medal in Olympics at Tokyo earlier this year, and the Paralympics heroes as they received the Khel Ratna awards from President Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of a host of Ministers, dignitaries, and sports celebrities.
A large number of nominations were received for these awards this year, which were considered by the selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) Mukundakam Sharma earlier this month.
Khel Ratna was presented to twelve sportspersons — Neeraj (athletics), Ravi Dahiya (wrestling), Lovlina Borgohain (boxing), PR Sreejesh (hockey), Avani Lekhara (para-shooting), Antil (para-athletics), Pramod Bhagat (para-badminton), Krishna Nagar (para-badminton), Manish Narwal (para-shooting), Mithali Raj (cricket), Sunil Chhetri (football), and Manpreet Singh (hockey).
However, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold medallist Krishna Nagar didn’t attend the award ceremony. There were reports that his mother passed away on Friday and that’s why he didn’t turn up for the event.
Meanwhile, all members of the men’s hockey team that won the historic bronze medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been awarded Arjuna Award except Sreejesh and Manpreet, both of whom had already received it in the past.
The full list of athletes who received the Arjuna includes Arpinder Singh, Simranjit Kaur, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhavani Devi, Monika Devi, Vandana Katariya, Sandeep Narwal, Hiimani Uttam Parab, Abhishek Verma, Ankita Raina, Deepak Punia, Dilpreet Singh, Harman Preet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Shamsher Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Varun Kumar, Simranjeet Singh, Yogesh Kathuniya, Nishad Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Suhas Yathiraj, Singhraj Adhana, Bhavana Patel, Harvinder Singh, and Sharad Kumar.
The Dronacharya Award for the Life-Time Category were also presented on the occasion. It was presented to coaches TP Ouseph (athletics), Sarkar Talwar (cricket), Sarpal Singh (hockey), Ashan Kumar (kabaddi), and Tapan Kumar Panigrahi (swimming).
The Dronacharya in the regular category was awarded to Radhakrishnan Nair P (athletics), Sandhya Gurung (boxing), Pritam Siwach (hockey), Jai Prakash Nautiyal (para-shooting), and Subramanian Raman (table tennis).
The Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement went to athlete Lekha KC, chess Grandmaster Abhijeet Kunte, Davinder Singh Garcha (hockey), Vikas Kumar (kabaddi), and Sajjan Singh (wrestling). Punjab University (Chandigarh) received the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy for 2021.
India had a historic outing at the Tokyo Olympics, winning seven medals. And in the Tokyo Paralympics, Indian athletes came up with a breakaway performance with 19 medals–five gold, eight silver, and six bronze medals.