New Delhi: Sports Minister Vijay Goel on Wednesday remained non-committal on a similar policy for Paralympic medallists to be conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — the highest sporting honour in the country — on the lines of the Olympic medallists directly qualifying for the award during an Olympic year.
According to a policy by the government, during an Olympic year anyone who wins a medal will be automatically conferred with the Khel Ratna award.
“Our Paralympians have made India proud winning four medals so far in Rio Paralympics. But on the issue of awards, till now there has been no decision on any such policy for Paralympians. We will take up the matter within the ministry,” Goel told reporters on the sidelines of an event, where he unveiled the logo of the upcoming Kabaddi World Cup.
Indian athletes have so far clinched four medals (two golds, one silver and one bronze) in the ongoing Rio Paralympics.
On Tuesday javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia bettered his own world record to win his career’s second gold in the F46 event.
Mariyappan Thangavelu had also won gold in the men’s High Jump T42 category on Friday with fellow Indian Varun Bhati taking bronze at the same event.
Shot putter Deepa Malik bagged a silver medal in the women’s shotput F53 event, with a personal best throw of 4.61 metres.
Expressing his pleasure at the performances of the athletes, Goel said: “During the Olympics, it was difficult to attend any public function as people had just one question: ‘Where are the medals?’ The Olympians fought really well but unfortunately couldn’t convert into medals.”
“But our paralympians have really made us proud. It is a great day for Indian sports. We have so far won four and still counting,” he said.
Goel also revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will personally meet all the para athletes once they return from Rio de Janeiro.
“Modi is a big sports enthusiast, he follows sports keenly. Just like the Olympians, he will meet all our para athletes once they reach here,” he said.