Neeraj Chopra, Mithali Raj, Sunil Chhetri Honored with Major Award Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna

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Neeraj Chopra, Mithali Raj and Sunil Chhetri Receive Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award

President Ram Nath Kovind congratulated athletes, including Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, female cricketer Mithali Raj, and Paralympic history-making para-athletes, in a grand ceremony here on Saturday. For the first time, 12 athletes were honored with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award, the highest sporting honor in the country, in a program organized at the Durbar Hall in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Most of the award winners performed well at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was organized online last year, but this time it was organized as usual in Rashtrapati Bhavan in a big way.

Chopra was the highlight of the ceremony. He was greeted with thunderous applause when he went to receive the award at this specially organized ceremony. Chopra was the first of the players to receive the Khel Ratna. In addition to the 23-year-old who won the Olympic gold medal in the javelin throw, Olympic bronze medalist men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, Olympic silver medalist wrestler Ravi Dahiya, Olympic silver medalist boxer from Olympic bronze Lovlina Borgohain and the captain of the Mithali women’s cricket team were also honored with the country’s highest sports award.

Sunil Chhetri became the first footballer to receive the Khel Ratna. Apart from this, Paralympic gold medalists Avani Lekhara (Shooting), Sumit Antil (Athletics), Pramod Bhagat (Badminton), Krishna Nagar (Badminton) and Manish Narwal (Shooting) also received the Khel Ratna.

In addition to 12 Khel Ratna, this year 35 athletes received the Arjuna award. This was mainly due to the best performances so far in the Olympic Games (seven medals) and Paralympics (19 medals). The ceremony is traditionally held every year on August 29, the birthday of hockey magician Major Dhyan Chand, but has been postponed to include players who have performed well in the Olympics and Paralympics.

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The Khel Ratna Award carries a cash award of Rs 25 lakh, a medal and a certificate of honor. The Arjuna Prize carries a cash prize of 15 lakh rupees, a bronze statuette and a certificate of honor. Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, his predecessor Kiren Rijiju and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.

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