After winning accolades for their performances in the Rio Olympics 2016, Sakshi Malik, P V Sindhu, Jitu Rai and Dipa Karmakar are to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. The Khel Ratna is the highest honour bestowed upon a sportsperson in the country. Meanwhile, Dipa Karmakar’s coach Bisheswar Nandi will also be awarded the Dronacharya award for his excellence in the coaching of Dipa despite poor support from the government.
While Sakshi Malik opened India’s account in terms of medals, P V Sindhu nearly won a gold in the Women’s singles badminton and helped restore some honour in what was feared to be dry Olympics season for the country. Shooter Jitu Rai currently ranked No 3 in the world was the only shooter after Abhinav Bindra to make it to the finals of their respective competitions. Dipa Karmakar meanwhile overcame poor facilities and a ‘flat feet’ to perform the infamous Produnova to perfection and came 4th in the Olympics. She was the only Indian woman in 52 years to qualify for the Olympics and became the only Indian to be in the finals of the event. The gymnast lost the bronze medal by a mere 0.15 points.
Earlier, India had sent its largest contingent to the Olympics, but results turned out to be an utter disappointment with being on the wrong side of close finishes and a few upsets. Abhinav Bindra lost the bronze narrowly while Saina Nehwal played with a knee injury to lose in the second group stage match. Wrestler Vinesh Phogat had to be carried out of the tournament due to a ligament tear. The Indian government has also received a lot of flak in the last few days due to the lack of facilities for sports other than cricket. Even the support staff sent to Rio along with the contingent was reported to be of poor quality. Hence, the recognition of these athletes and their coaches after performing admirably despite the obvious lack of facilities comes as hope for better days to come.