Khel Ratna Awards 2020 recipients: Rohit Sharma, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Vinesh Phogat, Manika Batra, Rani Rampal
An unprecedented five athletes – cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, para-athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu, women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal, and paddler Manika Batra – were on Saturday conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country’s highest honour for sportspersons.
The award winners were connected to President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan from nine different Sports Authority of India-designated locations. Rohit Sharma, who is in the UAE for IPL 2020, could not attend the virtual ceremony as the process only allowed the ones currently in the country to take part.
Wrestler Vinesh Phogat who was supposed to be present in Sonepat, had to be in quarantine after she tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the award ceremony.
India women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and para athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu attended the ceremony from Bengaluru and Commonwealth Games champion paddler Manika Batra joined from Pune.
Here are the profiles of the Khel Ratna awardees:
India’s current limited overs vice captain is the fourth men’s cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to get the prestigious Khel Ratna. Rohit is the only cricketer to have scored three double centuries in ODI cricket. He also has four T20I centuries to his name. He was the highest run-getter in the 2019 ICC World Cup and scored an unprecedented 5 centuries during the tournament.
The Indian women’s national hockey team captain is one of the most decorated female hockey players in the country. She has a silver and a bronze medal in Asia Games and a Junior World Cup bronze medal in her cabinet. Her stellar performance in the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup helped her win the ‘Best young player of the tournament’.
The high jumper from Tamil Nadu created history when he won the gold medal for India in the men’s high jump T-42 category at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. He has already been honoured with Padma Shri and Arjuna Award and the Khel Ratna will be another addition to his bulging cabinet.
The champions wrestler created history in the 2018 Asian Games when she won the gold medal in the 50 kg category of freestyle wrestling. The achievement was the first for an Indian female wrestler and marked a great comeback for the youngster, who had to be stretchered off during the quarter-final of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Her tremendous comeback after a grave injury earned her a nomination in the prestigious Laureus Sports Awards, the only Indian to get to be nominated. Vinesh has two Commonwealth Games gold medals in her kitty and a gold and bronze medal at the Asian Games to her name, apart from multiple other medals.
The ace table tennis player has been the most successful female paddler from India ever. She too created history in 2018 as she bagged a total of four medals at the Commonwealth Games, which included a women’s team gold and a women’s singles gold. She went on to win a historic bronze medal in the Asian Games the same year in the mixed doubles category.
Batra is the highest ranked India table tennis player in the world.