Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 21 January 2022 11.17 AM IST

PR Sreejesh, Neeraj Chopra among 11 recommended for Khel Ratna


NEW DELHI: Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who at Tokyo 2020 became only the second Indian ever to win an individual Olympic gold medal, silver medal-winning wrestler Ravi Dahiya, and Paralympic Games gold medallists were on Wednesday recommended for the Khel Ratna.

An unprecedented 11 athletes were selected for the country’s highest sporting honour.

Boxer Lovlina Borgohain, who won a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, seasoned hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Indian cricket team captain Mithali Raj were also recommended for the Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna by the selection committee.

India captain Sunil Chhetri also became the country’s first footballer to be selected for the honour.

Shooters Avani Lekhara and Manish Narwal, javelin thrower Sumit Antil and shuttlers Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar, who all have won a gold each in the Tokyo Paralympics, completed the list of those recommended for the Khel Ratna.

Last year, five athletes were picked for the award while four were selected after the 2016 Rio Games.

The announcement of the national sports awards was delayed in order to consider the performance of the para-athletes in the Tokyo Paralympics (August 24 to September 5).

The committee also picked 35 athletes for the Arjuna award, eight more than last year’s number of awardees.

Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan, para TT player Bhavina Patel, para shuttler Suhas Yathiraj and high jumper Nishad Kumar are among those selected for the Arjuna award. Members of the men’s hockey team that won a historic bronze in the Olympics will also receive Arjuna award.

Women’s hockey team members Vandana Katariya and Monika, who were instrumental in the team’s brilliant performance at the Tokyo Olympics, Bhavani Devi, who was the first fencer from India to qualify for the Olympics, boxer Simranjit Kaur, wrestler Deepak Punia, pistol shooter Abhishek Verma, boxer Simranjit Kaur, kabaddi player Sandeep Narwal, women’s tennis player Ankita Raina are among others to get recommendation.

The list which will now be sent for approval to the Sports Ministry.

India sent its biggest contingent to the Tokyo Olympics with a little more than 120 athletes representing the country, and achieved their best ever show by winning seven medals, 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 a whopping 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 memorable 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.

According to information received, the Dronacharya award has been accorded to athletics coaches Radhakrishna Nair and TP Ouseph and hockey coach Sandeep Sangwan among others.

The Khel Ratna award carries a prize purse of Rs 25 lakh and a citation, while the Arjuna award winners will get Rs 15 lakh each and a citation.

Prior to 2020, the prize purse of Khel Ratna was Rs 7.5 lakh, while Arjuna award was Rs 5 lakh.

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