President Kovind honors Neeraj Chopra, Sunil Chhetri & 10 other athletes with Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award

The function was organized in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan, where the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind bestowed upon 35 sportspersons some of the highest sporting honors.

Indian Olympic Gold medalist Neeraj Chopra and Football Captain Sunil Chhetri, among 10 others, were commemorated with the prestigious Major Dhyanchand Khel Ranta award on Saturday. The function was organized in the Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan, where the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind bestowed the 35 sportspersons with some of the highest sporting honors. Last year, the function was organized online due to COVID restrictions but was held physically this year.

Albeit several sports persons were present in the Bhawan, Chopra stole the spotlight when he received the prestigious award, followed by thunderous applause from all around. He became the first athlete from India to win gold at Olympics. Chopra achieved this feat in Tokyo Olympics 2020, held earlier this year. With this he ended a 13 year long Gold drought of the Indian contingent. Abhinav Bindra was the last Indian to win a gold in Olympics.

Simultaneously Sunil Chhetri became the first footballer  to win a Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award. Chhetri is not celebrated enough for all that he has done for his country. The Indian captain by far is one of the best footballers India has ever produced. At the age of 37, Chhetri has 80 international goals to his name and is tied with Lionel Messi for second place in the tally of active international footballers. Chhetri has most number of caps as well as goals for India.

All India Football Federation reports that Chhetri called receving the highest sports honor of the country was a dream come true for him. “I am thrilled, and I am really thankful and honored. I have always said that this is a dream that I have gone through….” Chhetri said.
Besides the likes of Chhetri and Chopra, the list of Khel Ratna included: Mithali Raj (Cricket), Ravi Dhaiya (Wrestling), P Sreejesh (Hockey), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Pramod Bhagat (Para-Badminton player), Avani Lekhara (Para rifle shooter), Sumit Antil (Para Javelin thrower), Krishna Nagar (Para-Badminton), Manish Narwal (Para Pistol shooter), and Manpreet Singh (Hockey).

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