Sindhu, Dipa, Sakshi and Jitu receive Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards

The prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award was on 29 August conferred on four Indian Olympians by President Pranab Mukherjee in the nation's capital. Shuttler PV Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai were awarded the highest sporting honour of the country for their contribution in their respective fields during a beaming ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

This was the first time in the history of National Sports Awards that four athletes were chosen for the Khel Ratna honour, owing to the three girls' exquisite show in Rio. In 2009, boxers Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom and wrestler Sushil Kumar were given the award together.

Sindhu scripted history by winning the silver in women's singles badminton in the recently-concluded Rio Olympics, while Sakshi took bronze in the women's 58kg freestyle category at the Games. Dipa on the other hand, came perilously close to a podium finish, finishing fourth in the vault event in Gymnastics at the Rio Olympics 2016.

Rai raised Indian hopes of a medal on day 1 of the Games but was way off mark the next day in the men's 10m Air Pistol final, finishing a lowly eighth to bow out of the competition. The disappointment of Rio Games however, doesn't mask the fact that the shooter has won half a dozen medals in the past two years, including a gold medal finish in the 50m pistol event during the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games the same year, to go with a bronze in the 10m event. All four received a medal, certificate and cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh each.


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