President Pratibha Patil presented the National Sports awards in New Delhi on Saturday, with Beijing Olympic bronze medallists boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar and four-time world boxing champion Mangte Chungneijang Marykom getting the Khel Ratna award at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It was the first time since the inception of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991 that three sportspersons were given the country's highest sporting honour.
Marykom was the first to receive the newly designed statuette from the president followed by Vijender and Sushil amid loud cheers at the majestic Ashok Hall.
Besides the trio, 15 sportspersons were awarded Arjuna Awards.
Badminton sensation Saina Nehwal, trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi, who equalled the world record, were among the Arjuna winners. Gautam Gambhir, who had a terrific season last year, was the only cricketer to get the award.
Olympic medallist Sushil's coach Satpal and former All England Badminton champion and Saina`s coach Pullela Gopichand were presented the Dronacharya Award.
The prize money for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand Awards have been increased this year.
Khel Ratna prize money has been raised from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 750,000. The prize money for the Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand Awards has been increased from Rs. 300,000 to Rs. 500,000.
The government instituted this year a new award, Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, to recognise the contribution made to sports by entities other than sportspersons and coaches.
Under the new category, Railways got the award for Employment of Sportsperson and Sports Welfare Measures. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee received the award.
TATA Steel bagged two awards for Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar. They got it for Community Sports Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent, and Establishment and Management of Sports Academies of Excellence.
List of awardees:
Rajiv Khel Ratna:
M C Marykom (boxer), Vijender Kumar (boxer) and Sushil Kumar (wrestling)
Mangal Singh Champia (archery), Sinimol Paulose (athletics), Saina Nehwal (badminton), L Sarita Devi (boxing), Tania Sachdeva (chess), Gautam Gambhir (cricket), Ignatius Tirkey (hockey), Surinder Kaur (hockey), Pankaj Shirsat (kabaddi), Satish Joshi (rowing), Ranjan Sodhi (shooting), Poulami Ghatak (table tennis), Yogeshwar Dutt (wrestling), G L Yadav (yachting), Parul Parmar (badminton disabled)
Baldev Singh (hockey), Jaidev Bisht (boxing), Satpal (wrestling) and Pullela Gopichand (badminton)
Ishar Singh Deol (athletics), Satbir Singh Dahya (wrestling).
Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar
Community Sports Identification and Nurturing of Budding Young Talent: TATA Steel Ltd
Establishment and Management of Sports Academies of Excellence: TATA Steel Ltd
Employment of Sportspersons and sports welfare measures: Railways Sports Promotion Board