It was a celebration of woman power in sports as Olympic stars PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar were today conferred India’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — along with shooter Jitu Rai in a gleaming awards ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
For the first time in the history of National Sports Awards, four athletes were chosen for the Khel Ratna honour, owing to the three girls’ superlative show at the Rio Olympics.
In 2009, three athletes — boxers Vijender Singh and M C Mary Kom and wrestler Sushil Kumar — had been given this award together.
Shuttler Sindhu won a historic silver in the women’s singles, Sakshi won India’s first ever medal (bronze) in women’s wrestling while Dipa grabbed a piece of history for herself with a fourth place finish in artistic gymnastics with her now famous Produnova vault.
Shooter Jitu Rai was always a contender after consistently producing medal-winning performances in the last two years, including gold at the Asian and Commonwealth Games along with a silver at the World Championships.
The four Khel Ratnas, who were greeted with a loud round of applause when they walked up to receive their awards from President Pranab Mukherjee, received a medal, certificate and cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh each.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ranta 2016
PV Sindhu – Badminton
Dipa Karmakar – Gymnastics
Jitu Rai – Shooting
Sakshi Malik -Wrestling
Dronacharya Awards 2016
Nagapuri Ramesh – Athletics
Sagar Mal Dhayal – Boxing
Raj Kumar Sharma -Cricket
Bishweshwar Nandi – Gymnastics
S. Pradeep Kumar – Swimming (Lifetime)
Mahabir Singh – Wrestling (Lifetime)
Arjuna Awards 2016
Shri Rajat Chauhan – Archery
Lalita Babar – Athletics
Shri Sourav Kothari -Billiards & Snooker
Shiva Thapa – Boxing
Ajinkya Rahane – Cricket
Subrata Paul – Football
Rani – Hockey
Raghunath V.R. – Hockey
Gurpreet Singh – Shooting
Apurvi Chandela – Shooting
Soumyajit Ghosh – Table Tennis
Vinesh Phogat – Wrestling
Amit Kumar – Wrestling
Sandeep Singh Mann – Para-Athletics
Virender Singh – Wrestling (Deaf)
Vinesh Phogat received her award while seated on wheelchair as she is recovering from a knee injury sustained in her second-round bout during the Rio Olympic Games.
Delhi: Wrestler Vinesh Phogat conferred with Arjuna Award by President Mukherjee pic.twitter.com/OEyzbhSU11— ANI (@ANI_news) August 29, 2016
Long distance runner Lalita Babar, who finished a creditable 10th in the 3000m steeplechase in the Rio Games, boxer Shiva Thapa, only the third Indian to win a World Championships medal last year, and hockey players VR Raghunath and Rani Rampal were among those who received the Arjuna award.
Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee presents Arjuna Award to Lalita Shivaji Babar for Athletics pic.twitter.com/CX8fs4x7vH— ANI (@ANI_news) August 29, 2016
Dhyan Chand Award 2016
Ms. Satti Geetha – Athletics
Shri Sylvanus Dung Dung – Hockey
Shri Rajendra Pralhad Shelke – Rowing
Also honoured were 15 Arjuna awardees who received statuettes, certificates and award money of Rs.5 lakh each.
Cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, who was also selected for the Arjuna Award, missed out on the ceremony as he is in the United States with the Indian team for a Twenty20 series against the West Indies.
Teen Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to become a world champion at any level with a gold medal at the U-20 World Championship, was also among the Arjuna winners this year.
This year’s Dronacharya Award was conferred upon six coaches, the most notable among them being Dipa’s coach Bishweshwar Nandi and India Test team captain Virat Kohli’s mentor Raj Kumar Sharma.
Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee presents Dronacharya Award to Bishweshwar Nandi (Coach of Dipa Karmakar) pic.twitter.com/TMY35vmxO9— ANI (@ANI_news) August 29, 2016
(With inputs from PTI)
(Feature image source: Twitter)