New Delhi, Aug 29 (UNI) Mahendra Singh Dhoni was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2007, while Jagdish Singh, the coach of Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Kumar, received the Dronacharya award to lead the cream of sportspersons in the country for the top sports awards at Rashtrapati Bhawan here today.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil presented the country's highest sporting honour - Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award - and also gave away a cash prize of Rs 5,00,000 to Dhoni, who was on National duty to Sri Lanka, for his magnificent achievements in the year 2007.
On behalf of Dhoni, his father Pan Singh received the award.
The President also presented the 2007 Arjuna Awards to 11 sportspersons, 2006 Dronacharya Awards to four coaches and the 2007 Dhyan Chand Awards to three sportspersons for Lifetime Achievement on the Birth Anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.
Along with them, the 2007 Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards were presented to four people while Punjabi University, Patiala bagged prestigious Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy for the year 2006-07.
Dhoni has now formed an elite list of cricketers which only has Sachin Tendulkar, who won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1997.
Under Dhoni's captaincy, India won the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. He also led his team to a 3-2 win an ODI series against Pakistan besides a series win Australia as well.
Jagdish Singh (Boxing), whose wards produced a magnificent performance at the Beijing Olympics in the boxing competitions and bagged a bronze medal, was conferred with the Dronacharya Award.
Along with Jagdish, Sanjiv Kumar Singh (Archery), Sridharan (Volley Ball) and Jagminder Singh (Wrestling) were awarded the Dronacharya Award whcich also included a cash prize of Rs 3,00,000.
''It is a proud feeling to get the award from the President.
Such recognitions definitely motivates us to work harder in future,'' Avneet Kaur Sidhu, who received the Arjuna Award, said told UNI.
''I know I could not match up to the best of my abilities at the Beijing Olympics but an award of this stature has taken my confidence to new heights,'' Avneet added.
Along with Dhoni, there were a few more absentees. Arjun Atwal, Harika Dronavalli and Farman Basha, all of whom were awarded the Arjuna Awards, could not make it to the ceremony.
While Farman was in Beijing for the Paralympics which begins on September 6, Atwal and Harika were also busy with their assignments.
Legendary runner and the head of the committee which selected the awardees, Milkha Singh said, ''I was flooded with thousands of applications but eventually I am satisfied that I did a fair job and the most deserving sportspersons got these awards.'' The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna comprises Rs 5,00,000, a scroll of honour and a medal in recognition of spectacular and most outstanding performance in sports.
The Arjuna Award comprises Rs 3,00,000, a statuette of legendary warrior Arjuna and a scroll of honour in recognition of outstanding achievements at the international level and for showing qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.
The Dronacharya Award comprises a plaque and a scroll of honour and Rs 3,00,000 for consistent, outstanding and meritorious work.
It is given to a maximum of five coaches in a year.
The Dhyan Chand Award for life-time achievement in sports consists of Rs 3,00,000, a plaque and a scroll of honour in recognition of contribution to a sports discipline before and after retirement. In a given year it is awarded to a maximum of three sportspersons.
UNI RAR AB RAI2057