New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, the country’s highest sporting award – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna – will be conferred upon four athletes with Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik set to be honoured alongside trail-blazing gymnast Dipa Karmakar and ace shooter Jitu Rai. The Sports Ministry announced this today.
While shuttler Sindhu created history by becoming the first female athlete from India to win a silver in the just-concluded Rio Olympics, Sakshi bagged a bronze in the 58kg female wrestling.
Dipa, India’s first female gymnast to qualify for Olympics, went on to miss a bronze by 0.15 points but her clean finish in the high-risk Produnova vault won the hearts of the nation, while Jitu bagged over half a dozen medals in the past two years, including gold at Asiad and Commonwealth Games and a silver in World Championships, which booked his ticket to Rio.
Besides, the Ministry also selected 15 athletes for this year’s Arjuna Award. The notable names in the list are boxer Shiva Thapa, long distance runner Lalita Babar, cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, hockey players VR Raghunath and Rani Rampal among others.
This year’s Dronacharya Award has been conferred upon six coaches, the most notable among being Dipa’s coach Bishweshwar Nandi and India Test team captain Virat Kohli’s mentor Raj Kumar Sharma.
Besides Nandi, others who will honoured with the Dhronacharya Award are Nagapuri Ramesh (athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (boxing), Pradeep Kumar (swimming, lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (wrestling, lifetime).
The Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Satti Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Pralhad Shelke (rowing).
Besides, the Punjabi University of Patiala will be awarded the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2015-16.
The National Sports Awards are given every year to recognise and reward excellence in sports.
The Khel Ratna Award is given for spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years. Apart from a medal and a citation, the Khel Ratna Awardee will receive a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
The Arjuna Award is given for consistent performance over four years, while the Dronacharya Award is given to coaches for producing medal winners at prestigious international sports events and the Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime contribution to sports development.
Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Awardees will receive statuettes, certificates and cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each.
The Recipients of Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar will be given trophies and certificates. Overall top performing university in inter-university tournaments will be given MAKA Trophy, award money of Rs 10 lakh and certificates.