An unprecedented 11 sportspersons have been recommended for this year’s rechristened Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna by the national sports awards selection committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Mukundakum Sharma.
This is the first time so many names have been recommended for a single edition of the awards ceremony. Last year, the government had honoured a total of 74 sportspersons with the national sports and adventure awards in different segments. The awardees included five in the Khel Ratna category and 27 for Arjuna.
This year, a total of 72 names have been recommended for the Khel Ratna, Arjuna (35), Dhyan Chand, Dronacharya (regular) and Dronacharya (lifetime). The list doesn’t include names of athletes, corporates and sports promotion boards and top-performing universities recommended for the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar (RKPP), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) trophy and Tenzing Norgay award.
Among those who have been recommended for the Khel Ratna – India’s highest sporting honour – include Tokyo Olympics gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, silver-winning men’s freestyle wrestler Ravi Dahiya, Tokyo bronze medallist woman welterweight boxer Lovlina Borgohain and men’s hockey team’s goalkeeper P R Sreejesh. Five para-athletes, who created history by winning gold each at the Tokyo Paralympics, have also been nominated for the Khel Ratna. These include Pramod Bhagat (para-badminton), Sumit Antil (para-javelin), Avani Lekhara (para-shooting), Krishna Nagar (para-badminton) and Manish Narwal (para-shooting).