India’s inspiring show at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics reflected in an unprecedented 11 recommendations for the Khel Ratna award, including that of champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, as the selection committee also named 35 athletes for the Arjuna honour, here on Wednesday.
Apart from 23-year-old Chopra, who became only the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, silver medal-winning wrestler Ravi Dahiya, boxer Lovloina Borgohain, who won a bronze, were recommended for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award, country’s highest sporting honour.
Seasoned hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and women’s cricket team Test captain Mithali Raj were selected along with iconic Sunil Chhetri, who is set to become country’s first footballer to receive the honour.
All five gold medallists from the Tokyo Paralympics — Avani Lekhara (shooting), Manish Narwal (shooting), Sumit Antil (athletics), Pramod Bhagat (badminton) and Krishna Nagar (badminton) — were also rewarded for their performance as they also made the cut in the list which will now be sent for approval to the Sports Ministry.
India sent its biggest contingent to the Tokyo Olympics with as many as 121 athletes presenting their challenge and the country achieved its best ever show by winning seven medal, including one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.
Three of those medallists, wrestler Bajrang Punia, shuttler PV Sindhu and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu have already won the Khel Ratna award.
At the Paralympics, India returned with 19 medals, including five gold, eight silver and six bronze medals.
Last year, five athletes were picked for the Khel Ratna while four were selected after the 2016 Rio Games, but India’s phenomenal performances in the Tokyo Olympics and
Paralympics has resulted in unprecedented numbers of recommendations.
The announcement of the national sports awards was delayed in order to consider the performances of para-athletes in the Tokyo Paralympics, held from August 24 to September 5.
The Khel Ratna award carries a prize purse of Rs 25 lakh and a citation. Prior to 2020, the prize purse of Khel Ratna was Rs 7.5 lakh.