Three-time Paralympic medal-winning javelin thrower Devendra Jhajaria, former India fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad and former world champion boxer L Sarita Devi have been named in the selection committee for the upcoming National Sports Awards. Meanwhile, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Mukundakum Sharma has been elected as the chairperson of this selection committee which also includes former shooter Anjali Bhagwat and former women's cricket team captain Anjum Chopra. The same was confirmed in a circular by the Sports Ministry.
Jhajharia recently clinched a silver medal at the recently concluded Paralympic Games. Earlier, he had already bagged two gold medals which he had won in the 2004 and 2016 editions of the Paralympic Games. The committee will be meeting in the next few days to decide the winners of the top sporting honours of the country. Notably, the awards were delayed this year after the government had opted to wait for India's performance at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
India have registered their best ever performance in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games as the nation bagged seven medals in the Olympics which was followed by a record 19 medals including five gold at the Paralympics. The Paralympics also included multiple medal-winning athletes this time.
Khel Ratna to be bestowed for the first time after being renamed after Dhyan Chand
Post the Games, Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra emerged as the brightest and biggest star as he ended India's search for a maiden track and field medal in over 100 years and he did it not by winning a silver or bronze but by bagging the best medal on offer.
The highest sporting honour is the Khel Ratna, which has been renamed from the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to the Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna, which is followed in the hierarchy by the Arjuna award. While the Khel Ratna carried a prize of INR 25 lakhs, the Arjuna award has a cash prize of INR 15 lakh. The awards are also there for the coaches and are named the Dronacharya award. The annual set of awards also include the Rahstriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, and the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) trophy for the year 2021.
Apart from the aforementioned named, the selection committee includes hockey coach Baldev Singh, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan and senior journalists Vijay Lokapally and Vikrant Gupta.