Arjuna awards and Khel Ratna conferred by president


New Delhi : India’s one-day cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was Friday conferred with the nation’s highest sporting honour – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award – by President Pratibha Patil for his outstanding performance in cricket since making his debut in 2004.

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The historic Ashok Hall in all its grandeur also had the country’s eleven sportspersons receive the Arjuna award while three coaches were bestowed with Dronacharya award.

The Khel Ratna carries a medal, a ceremonial dress, the scroll of honour and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh (Rs.500,000). Dhoni, who is leading the team in Sri Lanka one-day series was not present at the award ceremony and his father Pan Singh accepted the honouron his behalf.

The Arjuna awardees were Chitra K Soman (athletics), Anup Sridhar (badminton), Verghese Johnson (boxing), D. Harika (chess), Arjun Atwal (golf), Prabhjot Singh (hockey), Tombi Devi (judo), Bajranj Lal Takhar (rowing), Avneet Kaur Sidhu (shooting), Alka Tomar (wrestling) and Farman Basha (powerlifting — disabled category).

Jagdish Singh (boxing), Sanjeev Kumar Singh (archery), G. E. Sridharan (volleyball), Jagminder Singh (wrestling) were the four coaches who were honoured with the Dronacharya award for the year 2007.

The Dhaynchand award which is given to the retired sportsperson who continues to promote sports was given to Hakam Singh (athletics), Mukhbain Singh (hockey) and Gyan Singh (wrestling).

Tenzing Norgay award – the highest national recognition for outstanding achievement in the field of adventure sports – went to Subedar Neel Chand, Subedar Mohinder Singh, Air Commodore Tushar Kanti Rath, Captain M. S Kohli.