On the auspicious eve of National Sports Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Rio Olympic champions including silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, bronze winner Sakshi Malik and shooter Jitu Rai at his residence at New Delhi.
The champions were recently awarded with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award; the country’s highest sporting honour. Recently, President Pranab Mukherjee presented the awards at the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. In the history of National Sports Awards, this was the first time that four athletes were conferred with the Khel Ratna. In the year 2009, three athletes including boxer Vijender Singh, M.C Mary Kom and wrestler Sushil Kumar were conferred with the awards together.
All the athletes awarded with the Khel Ratna award were honoured with a medal, certificate and a cash prize of Rs 750,000 each. The Ministry also selected 15 athletes for this year’s Arjuna Award. The names made in the list were cricketer Ajinkya Rahane, long distance runner Lalita Babar, boxer Shiva Thapa, hockey players VR Raghunath and Rani Rampal among others. Apart from this, the notable names of the Dronacharya awardees were Dipa’s coach Bisheshwar Nandi along with Team India skipper Virat Kohli’s coach Raj Kumar Sharma, boxing coach Sagar Mal Dhayal, athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh, Pradeep Kumar (Swimming, lifetime) and Mahabir Singh (wrestling, lifetime). Also the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Sathi Geetha (athletics), Sylvanus Dung Dung (hockey) and Rajendra Pralhad Shelke (rowing).
However, with India bagging only two medals at Rio 2016; Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced the plans to set up a task force to prepare an action plan for the next three Olympics. “The task force will prepare overall strategy for sports facility, training, selection procedure and other related matters,” a PMO statement said. The task force will include the members who are in-house experts and also those from outside.
The next Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in the year 2020.