Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, cricketer Mithali Raj and history-making Paralympic stars shared the spotlight as an unprecedented 11 sportspersons were presented with India’s highest sporting honour – the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna – by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.
Chopra, who became India’s first Olympic medallist in athletics and the first gold-medallist in 13 years, was the first among the Khel Ratna awardees to receive the honour.
Besides the 23-year-old star, other recipients of the Khel Ratna recognition, were Olympic bronze-winning Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, Olympic silver-medallist wrestler Ravi Dahiya, Olympic bronze-winning boxer Lovlina Borgohain and Mithali, who became the first woman cricketer to get the award.
Sunil Chhetri became the first footballer to be bestowed the award.
According to ANI, Krishna Nagar (Para Badminton) was slated to receive the Khel Ratna Award but had to miss the event after the death of his mother.
Paralympic gold-winners Avani Lekhara (Shooting), Sumit Antil (Athletics), Pramod Bhagat (Badminton), Krishna Nagar (Badminton), Manish Narwal (Shooting) were also given the Khel Ratna.
Along with 12 Khel Ratnas, India this year honoured 35 Arjuna awardees, including cricketer Shikhar Dhawan, Olympic bronze-winning men’s hockey team and other medal winners from Paralympic Games.
The long list this year was a result of…