The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the highest sporting honour in India, will now be known as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The decision is taken in “respecting the sentiments of citizens across the country”, he confirmed.
PM Modi took to Twitter to made the announcement. “I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!” tweeted Modi.
It was in 1991-92 when the Khel Ratna award was first conferred to Chess genius Viswanathan Anand. The other winners who were honoured with the award were Leander Paes, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhanraj Pillay, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, Mary Kom and Rani Rampal in 2020.
The hockey classic, Major Dhyan Chand, played international hockey from 1926 to 1949, scoring over 400 goals throughout his career. Dhyan Chand, born in Allahabad, was part of the national team that won gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics.
Apart from the Khel Ratna award, the country’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports is known as the Dhyan Chand Award. It was inaugurated in 2002. In the same year, the National Stadium in New Delhi was renamed the Dhyan Chand National Stadium.