Paralympics double gold medallist and world record holder Devendra Jhajharia has been named as the recipient of this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award along with former India hockey team captain Sardar Singh.
Jhajharia won gold in men’s javelin F46 event at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens with a then world record distance of 62.15 metres, eclipsing the previous mark of 59.77m.
It was the first gold medal for India at the Paralympics since Murlikant Petkar finished at the top of the podium in men’s 50m freestyle swimming at Heidelberg, Germany in 1972.
Jhajharia repeated the feat at the Rio Paralympics last year, winning the gold and rewriting his own eight-year world record with a throw of 63.97m.
Sardar, who made his international debut against arch-rivals Pakistan in 2006, was named as captain of the Indian hockey squad after the debacle at the 2012 Olympics in London where the team finished last in the 12-nation field.
With Sardar as captain, India won gold at the 2014 Asian Games and the continental title at the 2007 Asian Cup. He also led the national team to the bronze medal at the Hockey World League in 2015.
The 31-year-old from Sirsa district of Haryana was included in the 18-men FIH All-Star team in 2010 and 2011.
The recipients of this year’s Dronacharya Awards, which honours coaches with notable achievements in their respective fields, were also announced on Tuesday.
The Dronacharya awardees are R. Gandhi (athletics), Heera Nand Kataria (kabaddi), G.S.S.V. Prasad (badminton), Brij Bhushan Mohanty (boxing), P.A. Raphel (hockey), Sanjoy Chakraverthy (shooting) and Roshan Lal (wrestling).