New Delhi, Aug.29 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Saturday presented the National Sports awards to 25 sportspersons at an impressive ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan here.
In a unique departure from established tradition, the coveted Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award was presented to three sportspersons - two boxers and a wrestler - for the first time.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was presented to woman boxer M C Marykom and Beijing bronze medalist boxer Vijender Singh, and to wrestler Sushil Kumar.
The country's best boxer and four-time World Champion, MC Mary Kom, got the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna after applying for it for the past three years.
Vijender Kumar got the highest national sports award a year after he won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, while wrester Sushil Kumar also got the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award a year after winning India a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Sushil said the recognition would be a huge fillip for wrestling in India and the country can look forward to more medals in future.
Badminton ace Saina Nehwal received the Arjuna award for her excellent show in the last one year, as also cricketer Gautam Gambhir.
Badminton coach Pullela Gopichand achieved the rare feat of being the only sportsperson in the nation to have won the Khel Ratna, the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shree and now the ronacharya award due to Saina Nehwal's superb performance. (ANI)