Monday, August 22, 2016

An unprecedented four Khel Ratnas this year

NEW DELHI: As already reported by on August 19, for the first time in the history of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna+ , the highest honour in sports in India, there will be at least four recipients this year.

Two of India's 2016 Olympians, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai, had been recommended for the prestigious award. Dipa Karmakar's name was not on the original list but her performance in Rio, where she finished fourth in the vault final, catapulted her in the reckoning. In a meeting of the committee that recommends the award it was decided that any athlete who wins a medal in the Olympics would also be conferred with the Khel Ratna.

So two more names were added to that list - PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik - based on their medal-winning performances in Rio.

Sakshi became the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal when she won a bronze in freestyle 58 kg category.

PV Sindhu won a silver in the women's badminton singles, the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics.

Since its inception in 1991-92, it has traditionally been awarded to one Indian sportsperson each year - the last recipient was Sania Mirza - by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, with exceptions being 1993-94, 20012, 2009 and 2012 when multiple recipients were named. Four recipients is an unprecedented situation in the Khel Ratna's history.

From Lalita Babar who finished 10th in the 3000m women's steeplechase at Rio De Janeiro to Ajinkya Rahane whose consistent performances has propelled him up the batting charts, 15 athletes have been conferred the Arjuna Awards this year. Here is a full list of those who have been conferred the Arjuna Awards:

Rajat Chauhan (archery), Lalita Babar (athletics), Sourav Kothari (billiards and snooker), Shiva Thapa (boxing), Ajinkya Rahane (cricket), Subrata Paul (football), Rani (hockey), VR Raghunath (hockey), Gurpreet Singh and Apurvi Chandela (shooting), Soumyajit Ghosh (table tennis), Vinesh Phogat and Amit Kumar (wrestling), Sandeep Singh Mann (para-athletics), Virender Singh (wrestling - deaf).

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