Three-time Paralympic medal-winning javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad, and ex-world champion boxer L Sarita Devi have been named in the selection committee for this year’s National Sports Awards. (More Sports News)
Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Mukundakum Sharma has been picked as the chairperson of the committee, which also includes decorated former shooter Anjali Bhagwat and former women’s cricket team captain Anjum Chopra, the sports ministry stated in a circular.
Jhajharia won a silver medal at the recent Tokyo Paralympics, adding to the two gold medals he had won in the 2004 (Athens) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro) editions. The committee will be meeting in the next few days to decide the winners.
This year's awards were delayed after the government decided to wait for India’s performance at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The country notched up historic results in both the events with an unprecedented seven medals in the Olympics followed by a record haul of 19, including five gold, at the Paralympics.
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was the biggest star of the Olympics with gold – India’s first athletics medal at the Olympics and the first top finish in 13 years. The highest honour is the Khel Ratna award, which was rechristened from Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna this year, followed by the Arjuna award.
The Khel Ratna carries prize money of Rs 25 lakh, while the Arjuna comes with Rs 15 lakh package. For coaches, the Dronacharya award is there. The annual honours also include the Lifetime Achievement award, the Rahstriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, and the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) trophy for the year 2021.
The selection committee also includes hockey coach Baldev Singh, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan, and senior journalists Vijay Lokapally and Vikrant Gupta.