The Javelin thrower won India’s first gold medal in Athletics at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neera Chopra is among the 11 athletes who have been recommended for India’s highest sporting honour, the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award on Wednesday. The National Sports Awards Committee also recommended 35 Indian athletes for the prestigious Arjuna Award.
Chopra etched his name in Indian sports history for the ages, as he clinched the elusive gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in men’s javelin throw, earlier this year. His victory meant that he registered India’s first-ever medal in athletics at the Summer Games, while becoming the second-ever Indian athlete to bag gold, after shooter Abhinav Bindra.
Apart from Neeraj Chopra, the committee also recommended Olympic medalists Ravi Dahiya, Lovlina Borgohain and PR Sreejesh for the Khel Ratna Award. Borgohain won a bronze medal in women’s boxing, while Ravi Dahiya picked up a historic bronze medal in men’s wrestling. Star Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was a part of the Indian hockey team that won a medal in the Olympics after a long wait of 41 years.
Five Paralympians in list
India also had a successful Tokyo Paralympic Games which saw the nation finishing the competition with their best-ever medal tally. The Indian para-athletes won a total of 19 medals which included five gold, eight silver and six bronze medals. The committee took note of the performance and recommended five para-athletes for the prestigious award. The names include Avani Lekhara (shooting), Pramod Bhagat (badminton), Sumit Antil (Javelin), Krishna Nagar (badminton) and Manish Narwal (shooting).
The National Sports Awards Committee has also named veteran Indian women’s cricketer Mithali Raj for the top honour along with the captain of the Indian football team Sunil Chhetri. Raj has player over 300 international matches for Indian, while Chhetri is the second joint-highest active goalscorer in international football. India’s all-time leading goalscorer is ageing like fine wine and continues to lead the team by example.
He has also become the first Indian footballer to get the recommendation for the Khel Ratna award. The committee has recommended 35 Indian athletes for the prestigious Arjuna Award and 17 coaches for the Dronacharya Award.
Previously known as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently renamed it after hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, following India’s historic bronze medal in hockey at the Tokyo Olympics.