Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Dahiya and Mithali Raj among 11 selected for Khel Ratna, Shikhar Dhawan nominated for Arjuna

Khel Ratna

Following their historic performances in the Tokyo Olympics, India’s gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and silver medal winner wrestler Ravi Dahiya were recommended for the prestigious Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award along with other athletes. The selection committee also announced 35 names for the Arjuna Award on Wednesday.

The 11 recommendations for Khel Ratna includes Olympics bronze-medal winner boxer Lovlina  Borgohain and women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj. Apart from that, veteran hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and iconic footballer Sunil Chhetri were also selected for India’s highest sports honour. In fact, Chhetri will be the first football player to win this honour.

The selection for this year’s Khel Ratna got delayed as the selectors wanted to take into consideration the performances in the Tokyo Paralympics which took place from August 24 to September 5. All the five medallists from the Paralympics were selected for Khel Ratna which includes Avani Lekhara (shooting), Manish Narwal (shooting), Sumit Antil (athletics), Pramod Bhagat (badminton), and Krishna Nagar (badminton).

Notably, this year, India had sent its biggest squad of athletes for the Tokyo Olympics consisting of 121 athletes. The country returned with its highest ever medal haul of seven medals including one gold, two silver and four bronze. The 23-year old javelin star Neeraj Chopra gifted India its second individual Olympics gold medal. On the other hand, India bagged a total of 19 medals in the Tokyo Paralympics.           

Three of this year’s Olympics medallists – Bajrang Punia, PV Sindhu and Mirabai Chanu – have already been awarded Khel Ratna so they did not feature in this year’s list of recommendations.

Following this news, badminton star Pramod Bhagat took Twitter to share his though. “The news of winning the #KhelRatna award is like an icing on the cake after winning the first gold medal for India in badminton. I would like to congratulate all my other colleagues who have won the award and big thank you to everyone who has supported me in my journey,” he posted on the microblogging site.

Meanwhile, Indian cricketer Shikhar Dawan became the 57th cricketer to receive the Arjuna Award after his name was announced as a part of the recommended 35. All members of the Olympic bronze medal-winning men’s hockey team, excluding those who have already won the award, were recommended for the honour.

The Khel Ratna Award, which was previously known as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, has recently been renamed after the legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. This award includes prize money of Rs 25 lakh whereas Arjuna Awardees will receive Rs 15 lakh each along with a citation.  

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