Athletes receive national sports awards | Video

Shami receives Arjun Award
Mohammed Shami receives the Arjun Award from President Droupadi Murmu. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: India's best-performing athletes were on Tuesday presented with the national sports awards by President Droupadi Murmu in a regal ceremony where cricketer Mohammed Shami walked in to rapturous applause at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Shuttlers Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy  were chosen for  the coveted Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award for a breakout 2023, during which they won their maiden Asian Games gold -- a first for India in badminton --, while also clinching the Asian Championships title and the Indonesia Open Super 1000 title. The duo is currently playing in Malaysia Open Super 1000 and therefore skipped the function.

An atmosphere of gaiety pervaded the Rashtrapati Bhawan as 26 athletes and para-athletes were conferred the Arjuna Awards. Long jumper M Sreeshankar, who won the Arjuna Award, and kabaddi coach Edachery Bhaskaran, who was chosen for the Dronacharay Award, were the Keralites to gain recognition.

Chirag and Satwik, who became world No.1 last year, would be aiming for an Olympic medal in Paris, having all but sealed qualification for the global showpiece later this year by virtue of being world No.2.

Also receiving a huge round of applause was the newly-crowned chess Grandmaster R Vaishali, the elder sister of precocious chess talent R Praggnanandhaa.

Vaishali was honoured for becoming the third woman from the country after Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika to turn GM.

Pistol shooting sensation, 19-year-old Esha Singh, was among the notable absentees as she is competing in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Jakarta.

On Monday, she qualified for the Paris Olympics after winning the individual and team gold in 10m air pistol events.

Other sporting bigwigs who were chosen for the Arjuna Award this year were wrestler Antim Panghal, a former junior world champion and bronze-winner at the senior event last year, boxer Mohammad Hussamuddin (bronze-winner at last year's World Championship), and para archer Sheetal Devi.

Devi, who won two gold medals in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, is the first international para archer without upper limbs due to a rare condition called Phocomelia.

Among the notable Dronacharya Awardees this year is chess coach R B Ramesh, who has groomed Praggnanandhaa.

While the Khel Ratna comes with a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh, the Arjuna and Dronacharya awards include a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh.

The recipients: Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award: Chirag Shetty and Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy (badminton).

Arjuna Awards: Ojas Pravin Deotale (archery), Aditi Gopichand Swami (archery), M Sreeshankar (athletics), Parul Chaudhary (athletics), Mohammad Hussamuddin (boxing), R Vaishali (chess), Mohammed Shami (cricket), Anush Agarwalla (equestrian), Divyakriti Singh (equestrian dressage), Diksha Dagar (golf), Krishan Bahadur Pathak (hockey), Sushila Chanu (hockey), Pawan Kumar (kabaddi), Ritu Negi (kabaddi), Nasreen (kho-kho), Pinki (lawn bowls), Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar (shooting), Esha Singh (shooting), Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (squash), Ayhika Mukherjee (table tennis), Sunil Kumar (wrestling), Antim Panghal (wrestling), Naorem Roshibina Devi (wushu), Sheetal Devi (para archery), Illuri Ajay Kumar Reddy (blind cricket), Prachi Yadav (para canoeing).

Dronacharya Award (regular category) for outstanding coaches: Lalit Kumar (wrestling), RB Ramesh (chess), Mahaveer Prasad Saini (para athletics), Shivendra Singh (hockey), Ganesh Prabhakar Devrukhkar (mallakhamb).

Dronacharya Award (life-time category) for outstanding coaches: Jaskirat Singh Grewal (golf), Edachery Bhaskaran (kabaddi), Jayanta Kumar Pushilal (table tennis).

Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement: Manjusha Kanwar (badminton), Vineet Kumar Sharma (hockey), Kavitha Selvaraj (kabaddi).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy 2023: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (overall winner university); Lovely Professional University, Punjab (1st runner -up), Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra (2nd runner-up).

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