President Ram Nath Kovind presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, 2018 to cricketer Virat Kohli at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on September 25, 2018
President Ram Nath Kovind presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, 2018 to cricketer Virat Kohli at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on September 25, 2018
Sports

Kovind confers Khel Ratna on Kohli, Chanu; Arjuna Awards on Neeraj, Hima Das, others

By Harpal Singh Bedi/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, September 25, 2018

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra led the star parade as President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards on 20 sportspersons at an impressive ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan here on Tuesday.
Though Virat Kohli was the star attraction, the loudest and longest cheers went for visually impaired para athlete Ankur Dhama. 
The cricket captain was also seen cheering as the packed Ashok hall in unison lauded Ankur.
Kohli was a glamour quotient in the function but Neeraj Chopra, Hima Das and Jinson Johnson, who did India proud at the recent Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, also got the applause they deserved.
The cricket captain, who was most sought after the function was over, was accompanied by his actor wife Anushka Sharma, his mother Saroj Kohli and his elder brother Vikas at the ceremony. He is the third cricketer to be awarded the Khel Ratna after Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and M S Dhoni (2007).
The world’s No. 1 Test batsman as per the ICC rankings has been in great form in the past three years though he missed out on the top award despite nominations in 2016 and 2017. He has scored 6147 runs in 71 Tests with 23 centuries and 9779 runs in 211 ODIs, including 35 tons. He received the Arjuna award in 2013 and the Padma Shri last year.
Interestingly, Chanu is also the third weightlifter to win the Khel Ratna after Karnam Malleswari (1995) and Nameirakpam Kunjarani (1996).
The weightlifter, who had received the Padma Shri earlier this year, was chosen for the Khel Ratna following her gold medal in 48kg category at the World Weightlifting Championships last year. She also won a gold in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games early this year but had to pull out of the Asian Games due to injury.
After receiving the Khel Ratna, Chanu repeated what she had earlier tweeted: “My dream has come true. It is indeed an unforgettable day for me."
"I thank everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. Special thanks to my family, my coaches, the  Government, Federation, and my fans. Indeed grateful!” she added.
Among the notable absentees were tennis star Rohan Boppana and women cricketer Smriti Mandhana, both of whom are currently out of the country .
Hockey star Manpreet Singh said "it is a dream come true. I am humbled. I will keep giving my best as long as I play (for my country). I am confident that we will do well in the World Cup to be held in Odisha. We are aiming for a podium finish."
Hima Das again repeated that the honour came as a surprise. ”I was thinking that I may get it next year, but the announcement that I have been named for the award was a sort of dream come true,” she said.
Neeraj Chopra was mobbed by his fans, but he was unfazed by the attention. ”My focus is on Olympic Gold, I am training with single-minded devotion for that. That is my target which I am determined to achieve," he said.
The ceremony, traditionally held on August 29 to commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, was defered this year to avoid a clash of dates with the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang which concluded on September 2.
The Dronacharya Award was presented to eight coaches this year, including cricket mentor Tarak Sinha and 39-year-old boxing coach C A Kuttappa, who was credited by Vijender Singh for his historic Olympic bronze in 2008.
The Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime sporting achievement was given to four former athletes.
While the Khel Ratna award carries a prize purse of Rs 7.5 lakh, the Arjuna awardees are given Rs 5 lakh each along with a citation.
Besides the Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards, the President also gave away Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand awards to coaches, the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy and Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar.
Before this, the Sports Ministry struck off compound archery coach Jiwanjot Singh Teja’s name from the list of Dronacharya awardees due to a past case of indiscipline. Teja resigned from his position to express his angst.
The Dronacharya Award was presented to eight coaches this year, including cricket mentor Tarak Sinha and 39-year-old boxing coach C A Kuttappa, who was credited by Vijender Singh for his historic Olympic bronze in 2008.
The following is the list of awardees:
Arjuna Awards:
Neeraj Chopra, Jinson Johnson and Hima Das (Athletics); N Sikki Reddy (Badminton); Satish Kumar (Boxing); Shubhankar Sharma (Golf); Manpreet Singh, Savita Punia (Hockey); Ravi Rathore (Polo); Rahi Sarnobat, Ankur Mittal, Shreyasi Singh (Shooting); Manika Batra, G Sathiyan (Table Tennis); Sumit (Wrestling); Pooja Kadian (Wushu); Ankur Dhama (Para-Athletics); Manoj Sarkar (Para-Badminton).
Dronacharya Awards:
 C A Kuttappa (Boxing); Vijay Sharma (Weightlifting); A Srinivasa Rao (Table Tennis); Sukhdev Singh Pannu (Athletics); Clarence Lobo (Hockey, Lifetime); Tarak Sinha (Cricket, Lifetime); Jiwan Kumar Sharma (Judo, Lifetime); V R Beedu (Athletics, Lifetime).
Dhyan Chand Awards:
Satyadev Prasad (Archery); Bharat Kumar Chetry (Hockey); Bobby Aloysius (Athletics); Chougale Dadu Dattatray (Wrestling).
NNN

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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