Star cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, and women's hockey captain Rani Rampal were among an unprecedented five sportspersons who will receive India's highest sporting honour - Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, while a whopping 29 for the Arjuna award by the sports ministry's selection committee.
Paddler Manika Batra and Rio Paralympic gold-winning high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu will also get the the country's highest sporting honour.
Rampal was a late addition to the initial list of four. This is the first time in the history of awards that five athletes will receive the top sporting accolade. In 2016, four athletes -- star shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik -- were collectively given this award. The 33-year-old Rohit will only be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, just-retired Mahendra Singh Dhoni and current skipper Virat Kohli to be conferred with the Khel Ratna. Tendulkar was the first Indian cricketer to get the honour in 1998, followed by Dhoni in 2007 and Kohli in 2018. Kohli won it jointly with weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.
While Rohit has been recognised for his ever-rising accomplishments with the bat, Vinesh has been rewarded for her gold medals in the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games besides a bronze in the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships.
Terming it as one of the biggest moments of her career, Vinesh promised to live upto the expectations associated with the award. "It's a proud moment for me. It was a long wait but it was worthwhile. If God permits I would live up to the reputation associated with this award," Vinesh said.
Terming it as one of the biggest moments of her career, Vinesh Phogat promised to live upto the expectations associated with the award. (Source: India_All Sports)
Thangavelu is being rewarded for his gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics in the T42 high jump category. T42 applies to athletes with single above the knee amputations or a disability that is comparable.
Star paddler Manika was awarded for her remarkable performance in 2018, a year during which she won the Commonwealth Games gold medal and Asian Games bronze in women's singles.
Rani is the lone female hockey player to receive the honour. Before Rani, only Dhanraj Pillay (2000) and Sardar Singh (2017) won the prestigious award. Sardar, incidentally, was a part of the 12-member selection committee this year. "Rani's name was a late inclusion after some members wanted a discussion on her nomination. After due deliberation, everyone felt that she deserves the recognition for her achievements," a source close to the development told PTI.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Aaward:
Mariyappan Thangavelu (Para-Sports)
Rohit Sharma (cricket)
Vinesh Phogat (wrestling)
Manika Batra (table tennis)
Rani Rampal (hockey)
For the Arjuna, India pacer Ishant Sharma, teen shooting sensations Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker, sprinter Dutee Chand, footballer Sandesh Jhinghan, woman cricketer Deepti Sharma, woman boxer Lovlina Borgohain and Indian luge legend Shiva Keshavan are some of the big names finalised for the Arjuna Award while five coaches will receive the Dronacharya Award.
Wrestler Sakshi Malik and former world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu name were added to the Arjuna Award recommendations but were later removed, possibly because both the women are former Khel Ratna awardees.
Complete list of Arjuna Award:
1. Atanu Das (Archery)
2. Shiva Keshavan (Luge)
3. Dutee Chand (Athletics)
4. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Badminton)
5. Chirag Shetty (Badminton)
6. Vishesh Bhrighuvanshi (Basketball)
7. Ishant Sharma (Cricket)
8. Deepti Sharma (Cricket)
9. Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing)
10. Manish Kaushik (Boxing)
11. Sawant Ajay Anant (Equestrian)
12. Sandhesh Jhingan (Football)
13. Aditi Ashok (Golf)
14. Akashdeep Singh (Hockey)
15. Deepika Thakur (Hockey)
16. Deepak Niwas Hooda (Kabaddi)
17. Sarika Kale (Kho-kho)
18. Suyash Jadhav (Para-Swimming)
19. Manish narwal (Para-Shooting)
20. Sandeep Chaudhary (Para-Athletics)
21. Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting)
22. Manu Bhaker (Shooting)
23. Madhurika Patkar (Table-Tennis)
24. Divij Sharan (Tennis)
25. Divya Kakran (Wrestling)
26. Rahul Aware (Wrestling)
27. Sakshi Malik (Wrestling)
28. Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting)
29. Dattu Bhokanal (Rowing)
A. Life- Time Category
1. Dharmendra Tiwary (Archery)
2. Purushotham Rai (Athletics)
3. Shiv Singh (Boxing)
4. Romesh Pathania (Hockey)
5. Krishan Kumar Hooda (Kabaddi)
6. Vijay Bhalchandra Munishwar (Para Powerlifting)
7. Naresh Kumar (Tennis)
8. Om Parkash Dahiya (Wrestling)
B. Regular Category
1. Jude Felix Sebastian (Hockey)
2. Yogesh Malviya (Mallakhamb)
3. Jaspal Rana (Shooting)
4. Kuldeep Kumar Handoo (Wushu)
5. Gaurav Khanna (Para Badminton)
In a first, this year's National Sports Awards ceremony, which normally held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, is likely to be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all the winners logging in from their respective places to hear their names being announced on August 29.
August 29 is celebrated as the National Sports Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand. They are conferred every year by the President of India.