Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delh: It rained honours and money as the in the first the National sports award ceremony was held Virtually due to the Covid-19 Pandemic with athletes logging in from across 11 SAI centres across the country to be honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.
This was also the first time in 44 years’ history of the awards, the function was not held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Setting up new precedents and breaking traditions, sports ministry this year named 74 for this year’s awards which included unprecedented five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratnas,27 Arjuna Awardees, and 15 Dhyanchand award. Sixty sports persons and officials, of the 74, selected, received national sports honours through virtually ceremony which was also attended by Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, and sports officials and other dignitaries. From this year the prize money for the Khel Ratna has been increased to Rs 25 lakh a whopping Rs 17.50 lakh more than the previous amount of Rs 7.5 lakh .
Arjuna awardees, 22 of who attended the ceremony, received Rs 15 lakh, a massive increase of Rs10 lakh more than the previous sum.
The Dhronacharya (Lifetime) awardees, who were earlier given Rs 5 lakh, received three more – Rs 15 lakh, while the regular Dhronacharya got Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh .Dhyanchand Awardees were richer by Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh.
Commencing the function Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said “This is the first awards ceremony in COVID times during which the president has participated,” In a tragic turn of events of Friday, a Dronacharya (Lifetime) winner, athletics coach Purushottam Rai, died in Bengaluru after suffering a heart attack.
The names of this year’s Khel Ratna Award recipients were called out first, However wrestler Vinesh Phogat and cricketer Rohit Sharma missed the function.Vinesh skipped the award after testing positive for COVID while Rohit is in UAE for the IPL.
The other three winners—TT player Manika Batra, Paralympic gold-medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu and women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal—attended the ceremony.
While Batra logged in from Pune, Thangavelu and Rampal joined from the Bengaluru SAI centre. President Kovind applauded as names of the attending awardees were called out.
Among the Arjuna Awardees Cricketer Ishant Sharma and Golfer Aditi Ashok did not attend the award function as they are out of the country while shuttler Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Arjuna) pulled out after testing positive for covid.
Prominent Arjuna awardees this year included star sprinter Dutee Chand, woman cricketer Deepti Sharma, and men’s hockey team striker Akashdeep Singh. The Dronacharya award in the life-time category was given to eight coaches, the prominent among them being Naresh Kumar (tennis), Dharmendra Tiwary (archery), Shiv Singh (boxing) and Romesh Pathania (hockey).
In regular category, there were five recipients of the Dronacharya, including hockey coach Jude Felix and shooting coach Jaspal Rana among others.
The Dhyan Chand award this year was given to 15 individuals, including Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu (football), Trupti Murgunde (badminton) and Nandan Bal (tennis) among others.
As per the direction of the Sports Ministry, every award winner had to undergo a COVID-19 test before reporting to the venue.
The other Arjuna Award winners are : Atanu Das (Archery), Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty (Badminton), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Basketball), Manish Kaushik (Boxing), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Sawant Ajay Anant (Equestrian), Sandesh Jhingan (Football), Deepika (Hockey), Deepak (Kabaddi), Kale Sarika Sudhakar (Kho Kho), Dattu Baban Bhokanal (Rowing), Manu Bhaker (Shooting), Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting), Madhurika Patkar (Table Tennis), Divij Sharan (Tennis), Shiva Keshavan (Winter Sports), Divya Kakran (Wrestling), Rahul Aware (Wrestling), Suyash Narayan Jadhav (Para Swimming), Sandeep (Para Athletics), Manish Narwal (Para Shooting).
Dronacharya Award (Life- Time Category): Krishan Hooda (Kabaddi), Vijay Bhalchandra Munishwar (Para Powerlifting), Om Parkash Dahiya (Wrestling).
Regular Category: Jude Felix (Hockey), Yogesh Malviya (Mallakhamb), Jaspal Rana (Shooting), Kuldeep Handoo (Wushu), Gaurav Khanna (Para Badminton).
Dhyan Chand Award: Kuldip Singh Bhullar (Athletics), Jincy Philips (Athletics), Pradeep Shrikrishna Gandhe (Badminton), N Usha(Boxing), Lakha Singh (Boxing), Ajit Singh (Hockey), Manpreet Singh (Kabaddi), J Ranjith Kumar (Para Athletics), Satyaprakash Tiwari (Para Badminton), Manjeet Singh (Rowing), Late Shri Sachin Nag (Swimming), , Netarpal Hooda (Wrestling).
Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards: Anita Devi , Col Sarfraz Singh , Taka Tamut , Narender Singh Keval Hiren Kakka All Land Adventure), Satendra Singh (Water), Gajanand Yadava (Air), Late Magan Bissa (Life Time Achievement).
Maulana Azad Trophy: Punjab University (Chandigarh)