PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik among Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winners. Photograph: (Getty)
The Indian government had announced earlier that athletes who win at the Olympics would qualify for the highest sporting honour
The Indian government will confer the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Jitu Rai and Sakshi Malik.
Fifteen other sportspersons, including Ajinkya Rahane, Lalita Babar, Shiva Thapa and Apurvi Chandela, will be given the Arjuna Award.
The government had announced earlier this year that athletes who win at the Olympics would automatically qualify for the honour.
With Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the four atheletes will join the league of sporting giants like Sachin Tendulkar (cricket), Leander Paes (lawn tennis) and Viswanathan Anand (chess).
Sakshi Malik, 23, was the first Indian woman to clinch an Olympic bronze in wrestling, and the first athlete to win a medal for the Indian contingent at the Rio Olympics.
World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa was the only boxer recommended for this year's Arjuna award, the country's second highest sporting honour, by the selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) S K Agarwal and comprising cricketer Gautam Gambhir and shooter Anjali Bhagwat among others.
The 22-year-old, who lost in the opening round of the ongoing Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has been picked for his fineperformances in the past four years, which included two Asian Championships medals (a gold in 2013 and a bronze in 2015), besides the World Championships bronze.
This year’s Dronacharya Award winners include Nagapuri Ramesh (Athletics), Sagar Mal Dhayal (Boxing), Raj Kumar Sharma (Cricket), Bishweshwar Nandi (Gymnastics), S Pradeep Kumar (Swimming) and Mahabir Singh (Wrestling).
National Sports Awards are given every year to recognise and reward excellence in sports. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is given for the most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years while the Arjuna Award is given for consistently outstanding performance for four years.
The Dronacharya Award is given to coaches for producing medal winners at prestigious international sports events and Dhyan Chand Award for life time contribution to sports development.