The Sports Ministry on Monday announced that Rio Olympics medallists—shuttler P.V. Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik—will receive the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award along with gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai.
Considered as the country's highest sporting honour, the Khel Ratna award is conferred on a sportsperson for outstanding performance over a period of four years. The award comprises a cash prize of Rs.7.5 lakh along with a medal and a citation.
Dipa's coach Bisheshwar Nandi has been selected for the Dronacharya award along side Team India skipper Virat Kohli's coach Raj Kumar Sharma, athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh and boxing coach Sagar Mal Dhayal.
Sindhu's coach Pullela Gopichand received the coveted award in 2009 while Sakshi's coach Kuldeep Singh has been overlooked for the award.
The Dronacharya awards for lifetime will be awarded to veteran swimming coach S. Pradeep Kumar and wrestling coach Mahabir Singh. The award comprises a cash prize of Rs.5 lakh each with a medal and a citation.
Star cricketer Ajinkya Rahane will be conferred on with the Arjuna Award alongside archer Rajat Chauhan, athlete Lalita Babar, cueist Sourav Kothari, boxer Shiva Thapa, footballer Subrata Paul, hockey stars V.R. Raghunath and Rani Rampal, shooters Gurpreet Singh, Apurvi Chandela, paddler Somyajit Ghosh, wrestlers Vinesh Phohat, Amit Kumar, Para-athletes Sandeep Singh Maan and Virender Singh.
The award constitutes a cash prize of Rs.5 lakh and medal and a citation.
Athlete Satti Geetha will be conferred the Dhayan Chand award along with hockey player Sylvanus Dung Dung and rower Rajendra Pralhad Shelke. The award comprises a cash prize of Rs.5 lakh, a medal and a citation
President Pranab Mukherjee will give away the awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29, which is celebrated as the National Sports Day.
Sindhu and Dipa were accorded rousing receptions at their hometowns on Monday on return from the Olympics.
Sindhu believes the hard work put in during the last two months and many sacrifices she, her parents and her coach Pullela Gopichand made paid off.
"It was my first Olympics. I was very excited. My aim was to play well and give my 100 percent. I never thought of medal. We took it match by match and prepared the strategy," said Sindhu on Monday.
"I just believed in myself. I went and I gave my 100 percent. I did it. When I went to Olympics I did not think I will play finals but then I believed in myself. I feel I have to give full effort in every match and results will come automatically," she added.
"I feel proud I have done this and got laurels to the country. It's a great feeling. Responsiblities will always be high. Definitely I will keep up and move forward."
Her coach Pullela Gopichand said the world has seen only glimpses of what Olympic Sindhu is capable of.
Meanwhile, the Tripura government welcomed Dipa with open arms in Agartala. Tripura Sports Minister Sahid Chowdhury said national sports awards to Dipa and her coach would benefit Tripura sports.
A motorcade of hundreds of vehicles and two-wheelers took to the streets here before a huge colourful reception ceremony was held at a city stadium to honour the "pride of the state".
"I will try extremely hard to get gold medals in the forthcoming Asian Games (2018 in Jakarta), Commonwealth Games (2018 in Australia) and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I shall try to deliver my best in future," said Dipa, who set a record by becoming the first Indian gymnast to qualify for Olympics in 52 years.
"I would have been happy if I had got a medal at the Rio Olympics for the country. I will try heart and soul to get medals at the Tokyo Olympics and other future international events," she told the media.
Tripura Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty declared a holiday on Tuesday at all educational institutions in the state in honour of Dipa.