Deepa Malik Honored With Khel Ratna Award At 49; Becomes Oldest Athlete To Receive The Honor

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Deepa Malik who won a silver medal in paralympic was honored with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. She became the first Indian woman para-athlete to receive the award. Also, at 49, she is the oldest to receive this award. However, co-awardee Bajrang Punia could not attend the ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi as he was busy in his training commitments.

Malik won the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics in the shot put F53 category. She was the joint winner of the honor along with the Asian and Commonwealth Games champion Punia who currently is preparing for the upcoming World Championships in Kazakhstan in Russia. Before Malik, double Paralympic gold-medallist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia was honored with this award in 2017.  

  19 Sportspersons Received Arjuna Award

Arjuna awards were given at the hands of President Ram Nath Kovind to 19 sportspersons. These include:

  • Ravindra Jadeja (Cricket), 
  • Mohammed Anas (Athletics), 
  • Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Football), 
  • Sonia Lather (Boxing), 
  • Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Hockey), 
  • S Bhaskaran (Bodybuilding), 
  • Ajay Thakur (Kabaddi), 
  • Anjum Moudgil (Shooting),
  • Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth (Badminton), 
  • Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (Athletics), 
  • Pramod Bhagat (Para sports-badminton), 
  • Harmeet Rajul Desai (Table tennis), 
  • Pooja Dhanda (Wrestling), 
  • Fouad Mirza (Equestrian), 
  • Simran Singh Shergill (Polo), 
  • Poonam Yadav (Cricket), 
  • Swapna Burman (Athletics), 
  • Sundar Singh Gurjar (Para sports-athletics) and 
  • Gaurav Singh Gill (Motorsports).

Apart from Punia, sportspersons who could not make it to the award ceremony include Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, Ravindra Jadeja, and Mohammed Anas. Currently, Jadeja is with the Indian Test team in the Caribbean whereas Anas and Toor are participating in the national inter-state athletics meeting in Lucknow.

Every year the National Sports Awards are given in memory of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand on his birth anniversary August 29. 

Malik Is Happy To Get It Finally

From the last three years, Malik was expecting to get the Khel Ratna Award and even had questioned as well as criticized the decision for ignoring her. 

Deepa said, “I am very happy. This whole journey has been more about changing the attitude of people towards disability and the hidden potential in people with disabilities. I think the award is going to be a huge inspiration to women athletes in disability. It took 70 years for independent India to win a medal in Paralympic.” 

 

 

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