Tokyo Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, silver medal-winning wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya, boxer Lovlina Borgohain, and Paralympic Games medallists Avani Lekhara, Pramod Bhagat, Krishna Nagar, Sumit Antil, and Manish Narwal were among a dozen awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award by the government on Tuesday.
Hockey team captain Manpreet Singh and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh along with cricketer Mithali Raj and national football team skipper Sunil Chhetri were the others named for the Khel Ratna award.
Besides the 12 Khel Ratna award winners, the jumbo list of national sports awards winners includes 39 athletes including history-making fencer Bhavani Devi, woman hockey player Vandana Katariya, 16 male hockey players wo ere part of the team that won a historic bronze medal after a gap of four decades at the Tokyo Olympics, and Paralympics medallist Bhavina Patel - were given the Arjuna Award.
The Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is the highest sports honour awarded by the government and is given for outstanding performances in the field of sports while the Arjuna Award is to recognise consistent performances and qualities like leadership and discipline. Both awards consider performances over a period of four years and include a trophy, a citation, and a cash award.
Normally, the awards are given on August 29 on the occasion of the National Sports Day but this year were deferred because of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.
In the normal course, the performance at Tokyo would have been considered for this year if the Olympics were held in 2020 and not get postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the country's sportspersons coming up with their best performance ever at both the Olympics and Paralympics, the Sports Ministry tried to accommodate as many medallists as possible, thus the jumbo list.
The full list of award winners:
Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award 2021
Neeraj Chopra (Athletics), Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Wrestling), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), PR Sreejesh (Hockey), Avani Lekhara (Para Shooting), Sumit Antil (Para-Athletics), Pramod Bhagat (Para Badminton), Krishna Nagar (Para Badminton), Manish Narwal (Para Shooting), Mithali Raj (Cricket), Sunil Chhetri (Football), Manpreet Singh (Hockey).
Arpinder Singh (Athletics), Simranjit Kaur (Boxing), Shikhar Dhawan (Cricket), CA Bhavani Devi (Fencing), Monika (Hockey), Vandana Katariya (Hockey), Sandeep Narwal (Kabaddi), Himani Uttam Parab (Mallakhamb), Abhishek Verma (Shooting), Ankita Raina (Tennis), Deepak Punia (Wrestling), Dilpreet Singh (Hockey), Harmanpreet Singh (Hockey), Rupinder Pal Singh (Hockey), Surender Kumar (Hockey), Amit Rohidas (Hockey), Birendra Lakra (Hockey), Sumit (Hockey), Nilakanta Sharma (Hockey), Hardik Singh (Hockey), Vivek Sagar Prasad (Hockey), Gurjant Singh (Hockey), Mandeep Singh (Hockey), Shamsher Singh (Hockey), Lalit Upadhyay (Hockey), Varun Kumar (Hockey), Simranjeet Singh (Hockey), Yogesh Kathuniya (Para Athletics), Nishad Kumar (Para Athletics), Praveen Kumar (Para Athletics), Suhash Yathiraj (Para Badminton), Singhraj Adhana (Para Shooting), Bhavina Patel (Para Table Tennis), Harvinder SIngh (Para Archery) and Sharad Kumar (Para Athletics).
Dronacharya Award winners
Radhakrishnan Nair (Athletics), Sandhya Gurung (Boxing), Pritam Siwach (Hockey), Jai Prakash Nautiyal (Para Shooting), Subramanian Raman (Table Tennis).
Dronacharya Lifetime Award winners
TP Ouseph (Athletics), Sarkar Talwar (Cricket), Harpal Singh (Hockey), Ashan Kumar (Kabaddi), Tapan Kumar Panigrahi (Swimming),
Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sports
Lekha KC (Boxing), Abhijeet Kunte (Chess), Davinder Singh Garcha (Hockey), Vikas Kumar (Kabaddi), Sajjan Singh (Wrestling).