Arjuna to Khel Ratna - Top 5 athletes with the longest gap between the two Awards
Sharath Kamal Khel Ratna win at the National Sports Awards 2022 took him into an illustrious group. Here is a look at the top 5 athletes with the longest gap between Arjuna and Khel Ratna Awards.
The National Sports Awards 2022 ceremony hosted on Thursday at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan felicitated 41 outstanding performances across 6 categories in the field of sports.
The highest sporting honor in India - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna now known as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is awarded for outstanding performance over a period of four years. Meanwhile, good performances over a period of four years are acknowledged through the Arjuna Award. This year, 25 awardees were recognized in this category for their sportsmanship, leadership, and discipline.
With the event in focus, let us shed some light on the top 5 longest interludes between receiving the two awards:
#5 Sunil Chhetri - 10 Years
Sunil Chhetri is an Indian professional footballer regarded as arguably the best Indian striker of all time. He currently captains both the Indian national team and Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL). The 38-year-old is 3rd on the list of active footballers with the most international goals (84) to their name. FIFA recently honored him for his achievements with a 3-episode series on his life and career. He received the Arjuna Award in 2011, Padma Shri in 2019, and Khel Ratna Award in 2021.
#4 Sania Mirza - 11 Years
Sania Mirza is an Indian professional tennis player and a former doubles World No.1 with 6 major titles to her name (3 in women's doubles, 3 in mixed doubles). The Women's Tennis Association ranked her as India's No.1 in Singles between 2003-2013. She is the highest ranked Indian-female athlete, the UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia, and the receiver of numerous other sporting titles, awards, and recognitions. She received the Arjuna Award in 2004, Padma Shri in 2006, Khel Ratna in 2015, and Padma Bhushan in 2016.
#3 Devendra Jhajharia - 13 Years
Devendra Jhajharia is an Indian para-athlete, who specialises in javelin throw. He is India's most decorated Paralympian with 3 medals against his name - Gold at 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, 2016 Summer Paralympics at Rio de Janeiro, and silver at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. He received the Arjuna award in 2004, Padma Shri in 2012, Khel Ratna in 2017, and Padma Bhushan this year in 2022.
#1 Mithali Raj and Achanta Sharath Kamal - 18 Years
Tied at the top spot, are two gigantic stalwarts of Indian Sports.
Mithali Dorai Raj is an Indian Cricketer and the former captain of the Indian national team from 2004-2022. Nicknamed 'Lady Tendulkar of Indian Women's Cricket', she tops the charts as the highest run-scorer in women's international cricket and is the recipient of several national and international awards. In 2019, she became the first woman to complete 20 years in International Cricket. She was honored with the Arjuna Award in 2003, Padma Shri in 2015, and Khel Ratna in 2021.
Sharath Kamal is arguably the greatest ever Indian table tennis player. He began by breaking National records and is the first Indian TT player to become Senior National Champion ten times. On the international platform, he remains one of the most decorated Indian Athletes with 13 Commonwealth Medals (7 Gold,3 Silver,3 Bronze), 2 Asian Games Medals (2 Bronze), 4 Olympic appearances, and 2 ITTF Pro Tour Titles under his belt. He was honored with Arjuna Award in 2004, Padma Shri in 2019, and Khel Ratna Award in 2022.