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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Rohit Sharma to Vinesh Phogat: Meet the five Khel Ratna recipients of 2020

The award ceremony will be held virtually on August 29, the National Sports Day, instead of the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: August 23, 2020 9:14:45 am
Rohit Sharma, Manika Batra, Vinesh Phogat, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Rani Rampal will be awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Rohit Sharma is among five recipients who will be awarded India’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for 2020. He will be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, and Virat Kohli to be honoured with the award.

Rohit, who had a tremendous show with the bat in the ICC World Cup last year, finished as the leading run-scorer in ODIs in the 2019 calendar year. He accumulated a staggering 1,490 runs in the 50-over format, which included seven hundreds – the most by any player in the calendar year.

On the other hand, table tennis champion Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, women hockey team captain Rani Rampal, and para-athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu will also be honoured with Khel Ratna.

Vinesh is so far the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for Tokyo Olympics. She brought laurels to the country in several international events, and has previously bagged gold medals in both Asian and Commonwealth Games.

Rani had helped the Indian team secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics. Her crucial goal against USA helped India clinch a marginal 6-5 win on aggregate in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers. She also led the side into the final of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where it lost to Japan 1-2.

“It is an amazing feeling when your hard work is rewarded, and I believe this award will serve as a great motivation for me and players like me to keep striving for bigger feats and make the country proud,” Rani said in a release issued by Hockey India.

READ | National sports awardees to attend function from various SAI centres

Mariyappan is the only the third Indian para-athlete to be awarded the Khel Ratna award, after former Paralympic medallists Devendra Jhajharia and Deepa Malik.

The 26-year-old Mariyappan came into the limelight when he won the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in men’s high jump T42 category before adding the bronze at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai last year.

Manika is the first Indian women paddler to clinch an individual gold at the Commonwealth Games. However, since her exploits at Gold Coasts 2018 she is yet to make a lasting impact. In fact, her ranking has also slipped to 63.

The award will be held virtually on August 29, the National Sports Day, instead of the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

(with PTI inputs)

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