Mithali Raj. (Source: Twitter)

The National Sports Awards Committee has proposed the names of 11 players, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and women’s cricketer Mithali Raj, who won the gold medal for India in the Tokyo Olympics, for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award for the year 2021. These include five para athletes. Last year, 5 players were selected for the Khel Ratna Award. After the 2016 Rio Olympics, 4 players got this award. In this sense, this time the highest number of players have been selected for Khel Ratna in any one year.

Apart from Neeraj, Ravi Dahiya (wrestling), PR Sreejesh (hockey), Lovlina Borgohain (boxing), Sunil Chhetri (football), Pramod Bhagat (para badminton), Sumit Antil (para badminton), The names of Avani Lekhra (para shooting), Krishna Nagar (para badminton) and M Narwal (para shooting) are present. The committee has proposed the names of 35 players for the Arjuna Award. Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan’s name is also included in these 35 players.

The sports awards ceremony used to be held on 29 August every year, but this year has been delayed. The government also wanted to include the performance of the players in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in the selection of players. The Paralympic Games were held in Tokyo from 24 August to 5 September this year.

Khel Ratna is the highest sports award in the country. Earlier it was named after former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. The Narendra Modi government recently changed its name to Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

The Khel Ratna Award was started from 1991-92. Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was given the first Khel Ratna Award. As of 2020, 43 players have been awarded this award.