Paralympian Devendra Jhajharia who won a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics created history as he was named to receive the Khel Ratna Award which is country’s highest honour for sportspersons, reported ANI. Apart from Devendra, former hockey team captain Sardar Singh’s name was also forwarded for the prestigious award on Thursday afternoon. Devendra Jhajhariya and Sardar Singh will be jointly honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Jhajharia had first represented India at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games at the age of 24 and had gone on to create a new world record with a throw of 62.15m to become India’s first gold medalist. He couldn’t represent the nation in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Paralympics as F46 classification was not included in the tournaments.
Sardar on the other hand, is widely considered as one of the finest modern day hockey players. He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015. Meanwhile, cricketers Cheteshwar Pujara and Harmanpreet Kaur were named among the Arjuna Award winners of this year. Pujara has been sensational for the Indian cricket team in the longer format of the game while Harmanpreet Kaur made the news by smashing 171 runs against Australia in the recently concluded ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in England.
Earlier it was believed that Indian women’s cricket team’s captain Mithali Raj’s name might be selected for the award but BCCI opted for Harmanpreet Kaur instead, leaving a lot of people surprised. This year a total of 17 sportspersons will be given the Arjuna Award. The list includes names of Paralympic medallists Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati, and golfer SSP Chawrasia.
Saketh Myneni, Mariyappan, VJ Shweta, Khushbir Kaur, Aarokiya Rajiv, Prashanti singh, SV sunil, SSP Chaurasia, Satyavrat Kadian, Anthony Amalraj, PN Prakash, Jasvir Singh, Devendro Singh, Bimba Devi and Varun Bhati are the other names in line for the Arjuna Award.