As revealed earlier, Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu, Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, and shooter Jitu Rai were conferred the country’s highest honour in sports, the Khel Ratna award, earlier today in a ceremony at Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. With it being the National Sports Day, the occasion was graced by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, who gave a certificate, medal and cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh to the four athletes in the spotlight.
Notably, four Khel Ratna awards were conferred for the first time in the history of National Sports awards, with the previous record being of three awards back in 2009, when wrestler Sushil Kumar and boxers Virender Singh and M.C. Mary Kom were felicitated with the same.
The Dronacharya Award was awarded to six coaches including Karmakar’s mentor Bisweshwar Nandi, along with Virat Kohli’s coach Raj Kumar Sharma, athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh, boxing coach Sagar Mal Dhayal, swimming coach Pradeep Kumar and wrestling coach Mahabir Singh. They all took away certificates and prize money of Rs.5 lakh each. The Ministry also granted the Arjuna Award to 15 athletes.
The ceremony was attended by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, who sparked controversy by erroneously calling Malik and Sindhu Olympic Gold medalists.