In what was the first virtual National Sports Awards ceremony forced due to the coronavirus pandemic, a record 74 sporting heroes of India were bestowed with the honours on the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, annually celebrated as India’s sports day.
The five Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardees and 27 Arjuna awardees, with the exception of a few, logged in from multiple cities to be honoured by President Ram Nath Kovind. 60 out of the 74 attended the virtual ceremony conducted across 11 Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres in various cities.
#NationalSportsAwards:Congratulations to Table Tennis player @manikabatra_TT on winning the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna 2020. She won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games 2018.@KirenRijiju @DGSAI @RijijuOffice @PIB_India @PMOIndia @IndiaSports @YASMinistry @mygovindia pic.twitter.com/CzqQbwCk75
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) August 29, 2020
While Khel Ratna winners Rani Rampal (hockey), Manika Batra (TT), Mariyappan Thangavelu (Athletics) attended the ceremony, Rohit Sharma (Cricket) and Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling) missed out due to IPL 2020 commitments and testing positive for coronavirus respectively. While Manika logged in from Pune, Mariyappan and Rani joined from the Bengaluru SAI centre.
Along with Rohit and Vinesh, Arjuna awardees Ishant Sharma (Cricket) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Badminton) also missed out on the ceremony after the latter tested positive. Ishant is also in UAE for the upcoming IPL season.
Behind the scenes: Capturing 🎥 some fun ✌️ moments of our athletes just before the awards.#NationalSportsAwards@KirenRijiju @DGSAI @RijijuOffice @PIB_India @PMOIndia @IndiaSports @YASMinistry @mygovindia @WeAreTeamIndia @ddsportschannel @AkashvaniAIR pic.twitter.com/LYnbDcUJ5e
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) August 29, 2020
President Kovind applauded as names of the attending awardees were called out and their achievements cited as is the convention. “This is the first awards ceremony in COVID times during which the President has participated,” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said at the beginning of the ceremony.
— Doordarshan Sports (@ddsportschannel) August 29, 2020
The prize money for the Khel Ratna was increased to Rs 25 lakh from the previous amount of Rs 7.5 lakh. Arjuna awardees, 22 of who attended the ceremony, were given Rs 15 lakh, which is Rs 10 lakh more than the previous sum. The Dhronacharya (Lifetime) awardees, who were earlier given Rs 5 lakh, were awarded Rs 15 lakh, while the regular Dhronacharya came with Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh per awardee. Dhyanchand Awardees were given Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh.
Former India athletic coach Purushotham Rai, 79, passed away with a heart attack on Friday, hours before receiving the Dronacharya Award, the highest sporting award for a coach in India. Purushottam Rai’s name was announced for the Dronacharya awards this year and he was scheduled to take part in the virtual felicitation programme from Bengaluru. He was even present for the rehearsals of the felicitation ceremony at Vikasa Soudha scheduled on Saturday, National Sports Day.
Full list of National Sports Award winners:
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Rohit Sharma (Cricket), Mariyappan Thangavelu (Para Athletics), Manika Batra (Table Tennis), Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling), Rani Rampal (Hockey).
Arjuna Award: Atanu Das (Archery), Dutee Chand (Athletics), Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy (Badminton), Chirag Chandrasekhar Shetty (Badminton), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (Basketball), Manish Kaushik (Boxing), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Ishant Sharma (Cricket), Deepti Sharma (Cricket), Sawant Ajay Anant (Equestrian), Sandesh Jhingan (Football), Aditi Ashok (Golf), Akashdeep Singh (Hockey), 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).
(Life- Time Category): Dharmendra Tiwary (Archery), Purushotham Rai (Athletics), Shiv Singh (Boxing), Romesh Pathania (Hockey), Krishan Kumar Hooda (Kabaddi), Vijay Bhalchandra Munishwar (Para Powerlifting), Naresh Kumar (Tennis), Om Parkash Dahiya (Wrestling).
Regular Category: Jude Felix (Hockey), Yogesh Malviya (Mallakhamb), Jaspal Rana (Shooting), Kuldeep Kumar Handoo (Wushu), Gaurav Khanna (Para Badminton).
Dhyan Chand Award: Kuldip Singh Bhullar (Athletics), Jincy Philips (Athletics), Pradeep Shrikrishna Gandhe (Badminton), Trupti Murgunde (Badminton), N Usha(Boxing), Lakha Singh (Boxing), Sukhvinder Singh Sandhu (Football), Ajit Singh (Hockey), Manpreet Singh (Kabaddi), J Ranjith Kumar (Para Athletics), Satyaprakash Tiwari (Para Badminton), Manjeet Singh (Rowing), Late Shri Sachin Nag (Swimming), Nandan Bal (Tennis), Netarpal Hooda (Wrestling).
Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards: Anita Devi (Land Adventure), Col Sarfraz Singh (Land Adventure), Taka Tamut (Land Adventure), Narender Singh (Land Adventure), Keval Hiren Kakka (Land Adventure), Satendra Singh (Water Adventure), Gajanand Yadava (Air Adventure), Late Magan Bissa (Life Time Achievement).
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy: Panjab University, Chandigarh