Three woman players – PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik & Dipa Karmakar along with shooter Jitu Rai received the country’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel ratna Award from President Pranab Mukherjee on August 28, the National Sports Day in a function organised in Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. For the first time in the National Sports Awards’ history, four players were conferred the Khel Ratna honour. In 2009, three players – Vijender Singh, MC Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar were given this award. On this occasion 15 other sportsmen were also presented with prestigious Arjuna Award, six with Dronacharya Award and three with Dhyan Chand Award. All the four Khel Ratnas received a medal, citation and cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh each while Arjuna awardees were given a statuette, certificate and a prize of Rs 5.0 lakh each..
All the three woman players who were honoured with Khel Ratna Award gave away superlative performance in recently concluded Rio Olympic Games. PV Sindhu won a silver medal in Women’s Singles event in Badminton and became the first ever female silver medallist in the history of Olympic Games in any sport. Sakshi Malik bagged a bronze in women’s Wrestling and also became the first Indian woman wrestler to achieve this feat. The gymnast Dipa Karmakar took everybody by surprise by finishing fourth in Vault in Gymnastics. The fourth recipient Jitu Rai made it to the finals of 10m Air Pistol in Rio and had a series of good performance in last two years in Pistol Shooting.
Long distance-runner and steeplechaser Lalita Babar who finished a creditable 10th in the 3000m Steeplechase at Rio Olympics, Hockey drag-flicker VR Raghunath and woman star forward Rani Rampal, boxer Shiva Thapa, cricketer Ajinkya Rahane and two para-athletes, Sandeep Singh Mann and Virender Singh were among those who received the Arjuna Award.
Among the Dronacharya Award winners, the most notable names were Dipa Karmakar’s coach Bishweshwar Nandi and Virat Kohli’s coach Raj Kumar Sharma while three ex-internationals, Satti Geetha (Athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (Hockey) and Rajendra Prahlad Shelke (Rowing) were conferred with Dhyan Chand Life-time Achievement Award. The Punjabi University of Patiala was awarded the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy for 2015-16.
Hereunder is the complete list who were honoured on National Sports Day –
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ranta Award
PV Sindhu (Badminton), Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics), Jitu Rai (Shooting) and Sakshi Malik (Wrestling).
Rajat Chauhan (Archery), Lalita Babar (Athletics), Sourav Kothari (Billiards and Snooker), Shiva Thapa (Boxing), Ajinkya Rahane (Cricket), Subrata Paul (Football), Rani Rampal (Hockey), VR Raghunath (Hockey), Gurpreet Singh (Shooting), Apurvi Chandela (Shooting), Soumyajit Ghosh (Table Tennis), Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling), Amit Kumar (Wrestling), Sandeep Singh Mann (Para-Athletics) and Virender Singh (Wrestling, Deaf)
Nagapuri Ramesh (Athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (Boxing), Raj Kumar Sharma (Cricket), Bishweshwar Nandi (Gymnastics), S Pradeep Kumar (Swimming, lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (Wrestling, lifetime)
Dhyan Chand Life-time Achievement Award
Satti Geetha (Athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (Hockey) and Rajendra Pralhad Shelke (Rowing)
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy
Punjabi University, Patiala.