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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa, Jitu conferred Khel Ratna

PHOTOS: Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa, Jitu conferred Khel Ratna

Last updated on: August 29, 2016 17:16 IST

IMAGE: Rio Olympics silver medallist P V Sindhu receives the Khel Ratna from President Pranab Mukherjee. Photograph: PIB

It was a celebration of woman power in sports as Olympic stars P V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar were conferred India's highest sporting honour -- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna -- along with shooter Jitu Rai at a glittering ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delh on Monday.

For the first time in the history of the National Sports Awards, four athletes were chosen for the Khel Ratna, following Sindhu, Sakshi and Dipa's superlative showing at the Rio Olympics.

IMAGE: President Pranab Mukherjee presents the Khel Ratna to Sakshi Malik. Photograph: PIB

Shuttler Sindhu won a historic silver in the women's singles, Sakshi won India's first ever medal (bronze) in women's wrestling while Dipa grabbed a piece of history for herself with a fourth place finish in artistic gymnastics with her now famous 'Produnova' vault.

Shooter Jitu Rai was always a contender after consistently producing medal-winning performances in the last two years, including gold at the Asian and Commonwealth Games along with a silver at the World Championships.

IMAGE: Shooter Jitu Rai receives the Khel Ratna from President Pranab Mukherjee. Photograph: PIB

The four Khel Ratnas, who were greeted with a loud round of applause when they walked up to receive their awards from President Mukherjee, received a medal, certificate and cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh each.

In 2009, three athletes -- boxers Vijender Singh and M C Mary Kom and wrestler Sushil Kumar -- were conferred the honour together.

Also honoured were 15 Arjuna awardees who received statuettes, certificates and award money of Rs 5 lakh each.

Long distance runner Lalita Babar, who finished a creditable 10th in the 3000m steeplechase at the Rio Games, boxer Shiva Thapa, only the third Indian to win a World Championships medal last year, and hockey players V R Raghunath and Rani Rampal were among those who received the Arjuna award.

Cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, who was also selected for the Arjuna, missed out on the ceremony as he is in the United States with the Indian team for a Twenty20 series against the West Indies.

IMAGE: President Pranab Mukherjee presents the Khel Ratna to gymnast Dipa Karmakar Photograph: PIB

Teen Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to become a World champion at any level with a gold medal at the Under-20 World Championships, was also among the Arjuna winners this year.

Goalkeeper Subrata Paul was the lone footballer in the list of Arjuna awardees, which also included shooter Apurvi Chandela and wrestler Vinesh Phogat.

Vinesh received her award while seated on wheelchair as she is recovering from a knee injury, sustained during her second-round bout at the Rio Olympic Games.

This year's Dronacharya Award was conferred upon six coaches, the most notable among them being Dipa's coach Bishweshwar Nandi and India Test team captain Virat Kohli's mentor Raj Kumar Sharma.

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