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In a first, government to confer Khel Ratna to 4 athletes

The Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Satti Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Pralhad Shelke (rowing).

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PV Sindhu Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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New Delhi, August 22,2016: In an unprecedented move, the country’s highest sporting award – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna-will be conferred upon four athletes with Olympic medallists P V Sindhu and Sakshi Malik set to be honoured alongside trail-blazing gymnast Dipa Karmakar and ace shooter Jitu Rai.

The Sports Ministry announced this to day.

While shutter Sindhu created history by becoming the first female athlete from India to win a silver in the just-concluded Rio Olympics, Sakshi bagged a bronze in the 58kg female wrestling.

Rio Olympics 2016 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rio Olympics 2016
Image Source:
Wikimedia Commons

Dipa, India’s first female gymnast to qualify for Olympics, went on to miss a bronze by 0.15 points but her clean finish in the high-risk Produnova vault won the hearts of the nation, while Jitu bagged over half a dozen medals in the past two years, including gold at Asiad and Commonwealth Games and a silver in World Championships, which booked his ticket to Rio.

Besides, the Ministry also selected 15 athletes for this year’s Arjuna Award. The notable names in the list are boxer Shiva Thapa, long distance runner Lalita Babar, cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, hockey players VR Raghunath and Rani Rampal among others.

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

Besides Nandi, others who will honoured with the Dhronacharya Award are Nagapuri Ramesh (athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (boxing), Pradeep Kumar (swimming, lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (wrestling, lifetime).

The Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Satti Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Pralhad Shelke (rowing).

Besides, the Punjabi University of Patiala will be awarded the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2015-16.

The National Sports Awards are given every year to recognise and reward excellence in sports.

The Khel Ratna Award is given for spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years. Apart from a medal and a citation, the Khel Ratna Awardee will receive a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.

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The Arjuna Award is given for consistent performance over four years, while the Dronacharya Award is given to coaches for producing medal winners at prestigious international sports events and the Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime contribution to sports development.

Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Awardees will receive statuettes, certificates and cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each.

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The Recipients of Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar will be given trophies and certificates. Overall top performing university in inter-university tournaments will be given MAKA Trophy, award money of Rs 10 lakh and certificates (IANS).

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Mary Kom aims to win a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics

Mary Kom stated that she is aiming to win a god medal in the 2020 Olympics.

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Mary Kom's goal to win the gold medal in the 2020 Olympics
Mary Kom's goal to win the gold medal in the 2020 Olympics. IANS

She has achieved almost everything that women’s boxing can offer, but five-time World Champion M.C. Mary Kom is still yearning for the greatest accolade in the world of sports — winning gold at the Olympics.

Mary’s only appearance at the Olympics came at the London Games in 2012 when women’s boxing was introduced for the first time at the quadrennial sports spectacle. Having moved up to the 51 kg category, she had ended up with a bronze medal.

She had admitted later that it was difficult to move out of her favourite 48 kg category — in which she had won her five world titles — but the change had to be made as it was not included at the Olympics or the Asian Games.

However, with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) debating over the prospect of including the 48 kilogram division at next year’s Asian Games and probably the 2020 Olympics, Mary is filled with renewed hope.

“I still have not won an Olympic gold. That is my ultimate target. I am working very hard with the 2020 Olympics in mind. I am trying my best. The rest is up to God,” the Manipur icon told IANS.

“As long as I am alive, winning gold at the Olympics will always be my greatest dream. That will remain a target till the end of my career,” she added.

Mary added another title to her already overflowing trophy cabinet recently by winning gold at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship — her fifth title at the continental level — and has now set her sights on defending her Asian Games title next year.

That may prove to be a tall task for the average athlete, specially at 35, an age widely considered old and over the hill for a physically demanding sport like boxing.

Mary, however, does not let such mundane details distract her from her goal. She is determined to overcome the problem of advancing age just as she has defeated every other obstacle that has come her way since childhood.

“My real strength is my will power. An athlete needs to be mentally strong. This is more so in my case as I have had to prove myself to people right from the beginning.

“I have had to face a lot of obstacles. First of all I am a girl, and as a result I had to fight initial disaproval from my family and society in general when I took up boxing. Then I got married which meant I had to adjust my schedule and lifestyle. Then I became a mother which meant more adjustment,” Mary said.

“Now I am fighting against age. At my age, it is a challenge to maintain fitness and compete against younger opponents. Now I have grown old for this sport. I have achieved a lot in my career. I have nothing left to prove. But I will keep on competing as long as my passion is alive. I want to wear the India jersey and contribute towards my country. I want to win medals for the country,” she added.

With India winning five gold and two bronze medals at the AIBA Women’s Youth World Championships last month, Mary is confident that changing social attitudes will see the country achieving even more glory in women’s boxing in future.

“Social attitudes towards female participation in sports is changing slowly. Earlier girls from the north, specially Haryana and even those from the south, used to face a lot problems from their families while taking up boxing. This is true even now to some extent. But attitudes have changed,” she asserted.

“People should let their daughters play sports. Only then we will win medals at the Olympics.” (IANS)