Khel Ratna Award rechristened as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award

New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award will now be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, ‘respecting the sentiments of citizens across the country’.

Making the announcement on Twitter, PM Modi said he had been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the award after Major Dhyan Chand.

“I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award,’ the PM tweeted.

‘Major Dhyan Chand was among India’s foremost sportspersons who brought honour and pride for India. It is fitting that our nation’s highest sporting honour will be named after him,’ he said in other tweet.

The decision comes following the spectacular performance of both men’s and women’s hockey teams in the Tokyo Olympics. India’s men won the hockey bronze, while women’s team finished at the fourth position at the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Khel Ratna award, which was named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, is the highest sporting honour in the nation. The prestigious award carries a prize money of Rs 25 lakh.

The Award was instituted in 1991-1992 and the first recipient was Chess legend Viswanathan Anand.

Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhanraj Pillay, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, Mary Kom were the other winners of the Award. The most recent recipients of the award are Rohit Sharma, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Manika Batra (Table Tennis), Vinesh Phogat, and Rani Rampal (Hockey).

Major Dhyan Chand, also known as ‘The Wizard’, is regarded as one of the greatest field hockey players of all time. He played international hockey from 1926 to 1949, scoring over 400 goals in his career.

India had dominated hockey for decades on the world stage and Chand played key roles in winning gold medals for the country at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics.

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