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Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

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History of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award first established in 1991-1992 is awarded to athletes to recognize their extraordinary achievement in sporting activities. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the Country’s top sports honor. The Khel Ratna accolade is presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. This prize is given yearly and was titled after Shri. Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India who led the country from 1984 to 1989. The prize package includes a medal, a plaque, and prize money of Rs. 25 lakh.

The recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is chosen by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports based on a parameter that encompasses the highest outstanding and remarkable accomplishment in the field of athletics and other sports during a 4-year period at the global level. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was established in 1991-92. Rajiv Gandhi made significant contributions to sports when he served on the Asian Games organizing committee in 1982.

How are Awardees Selected?

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award nominees come from a variety of sporting disciplines. Nominations are forwarded to SAI and the National Doping Agency for assessment of stated achievements and pharmacological clearances. A panel also verifies the nominations. The Joint Secretary and Director/Deputy Secretary of the Department of Sports, the Secretary, and the Executive Director of SAI make up this body. The Government judging panel is provided with all of the nominations.

The panel has 12 representatives, including a chairman appointed by the Government. 4 Olympic athletes or people who have received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award or Arjun Award, 3 sports journalists/experts, 1 sportsperson/expert, 1 sports administrator, the director-general of SAI, as well as the Joint Secretary of the Department of Sports, comprise the government screening panel’s 12 individuals.

All the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardees Since 1992


NAME Sports Event Years
Viswanathan Anand Chess 1992
Geet Sethi   Billiards 1993
Homi Motivala, Pushpendra Kumar Garg Yachting 1995
Karnam Malleswari Weightlifting 1996
Kunjurani Devi and Leander Paes  Weightlifting, Lawn Tennis 1997
Sachin Tendulkar Cricket 1998
Jyotirmoyee Sikandar Athletics 1999
Dhanraj Pillai Hockey 2000
Pullela Gopichand  Badminton 2001
Abhinav Bindra Shooting   2002
K. M. Binamol, Anjali Bhagwat Athletics, Shooting, 2003
Anju Bobby George Athletics 2004
Rajya Vardhan, Singh Rathore Shooting 2005
Pankaj Advani  Billiards and Snooker 2006
Manavjit Singh Sandhu Shooting 2007
Mahendra Singh Dhoni Cricket 2008
M.C. Marikom, Vijender Singh Boxing, Boxing, 2009
Sushil Kumar Wrestling 2009
Saina Nehwal Badminton 2010
Gagan Narang Shooting 2011
Vijay Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt  Shooting, Wrestling 2012
Ranjan Sodhi Shooting 2013
Sania Mirza  Lawn Tennis 2015
P. V. Sindhu, Deepa Kamikar Badminton, Gymnastics, 2016
Sakshi Bhai and Jitu Rai Wrestling, Shooting 2016
Devendra Jhajaria, Sardar Singh  Javelin throw, Hockey 2017
Virat Kohli, Mirabai Chanu  Cricket, Weightlifting 2018
Deepa Malik, wrestling, 2019
Bajrang Punia Athletics 2019
Rohit Sharma Cricketer 2020
Mariyappan Thangavelu Paralympic High Jump 2020
Manika Batra Table Tennis 2020
Vinesh Wrestling 2020
Rani Rampal Hockey 2020


In 2021, the Khel Ratna Award was officially renamed as Major Dhyan Chand Award and was awarded to 12 sportspersons including the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist in Javelin Throw Neeraj Chopra, Cricketer Mithali Raj, Footballer Sunil Chhetri, Boxer Lovlina Borgohain 

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