New Delhi: The Indian government has decided to confer the country’s highest sporting hounour – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, to Olympic medallist PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, along with shooter Jitu Rai and gymnast Dipa Karmakar.
PV Sindhu became the fourth Indian to win a silver at the Olympics after shooters Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (2004, Athens) and Vijay Kumar (2012, London) and wrestler Sushil Kumar (2012, London). Sindhu lost to World No. 1 in the final of women’s badminton singles.
Meanwhile, Sakshi Malik ended India’s agonising wait for a medal at Rio Olympics as she won a bronze defeating Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan. She came from behind to win the bout 8-5 and in the process became the first woman wrestler to bag a medal in Olympics. She also became only the fourth woman in India’s Olympic history -- Karnam Maleshwari had won a bronze in 2000 Sydney Olympics, while Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom had won bronze medals in 2012 London – to win a medal at Olympics.
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar was one of the bright spots in otherwise dismal performances by Indians at Rio Olympics on its initial days. Dipa, who had earlier become the first Indian athlete to reach a vault final, came up with an exemplary performance in the final and finished fourth, enthusing a new hope among the Indians craving recognition in sports. Considering that this was her first Olympics and the lack of resources and facilities under which she trained back home, this surely is a laudable achievement.
Meanwhile, though shooter Jitu Rai failed to impress at the Rio Olympics, his performances at the international stage were taken into consideration.
The awardees will be given a medal, a citation and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh by the President on August 29, which happens to be the National Sports Day.