New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the country’s highest sporting award ‘Khel Ratna Award’ named as ‘Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award’.
Till now the award was known as ‘Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award’.
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Modi made the announcement renaming the Khel Ratna Award.
“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. Jai Hind,” Modi said.
“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.
Welcoming the decision, Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said: “Major Dhyan Chand is India’s most legendary and loved sporting icons; it is only befitting that India’s Highest Sporting Honour be named after him. His life and achievements have inspired generations of sportspersons who have achieved glory for India.”
“Thank you Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji for always honouring and celebrating our true heroes. Our nation’s highest sporting award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! A fitting tribute to honour the legend and Indian Sports. Jai Hind,” said union minister Kiren Rijiju, who was former sports minister.
Chess player Viswanathan Anand was first recipient of the award started in 1991-92. Other recipients of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award were Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhanraj Pillay, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, Mary Kom and Rani Rampal.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh.
Hockey legend, Major Dhyan Chand, had represented India from 1926 to 1949 and scored over 400 goals in his career.