Major Dhyan Chand is widely regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli receives the Khel Ratna award. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday (August 6), announced that the Khel Ratna award, which was previously named after former PM Rajiv Gandhi, will now be known as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award in honour of one of India’s finest hockey athletes.

“I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!” the Prime Minister tweeted.

“Major Dhyan Chand was among India’s foremost sportspersons who brought honour and pride for India. It is fitting that our nation’s highest sporting honour will be named after him,” PM Modi further wrote on his official Twitter profile.

The Khel Ratna was instituted in the year 1991-1992 and Chess legend Viswanathan Anand was its first recipient. Other notable winners include Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Leander Paes, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George, and Mary Kom. The Khel Ratna is awarded to sportspersons for “most outstanding performance by a sportsperson” over four years. The award comprises “a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of ₹25 lakh.

The long-standing request gained more weight after the Indian men’s hockey team ended a 41-year Olympic medal drought by bagging a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 after a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Germany in the decisive clash. Notably, the national women’s team qualified for the bronze tie too, however, their dream of securing a maiden Olympic medal remain unfulfilled as they lost 304 to Great Britain on Friday.

The legendary Major Dhyan Chand

Born in Allahabad in 1905, Major Dhyan Chand is widely regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport. He played a pivotal role in India’s much-envied three successive gold medal triumphs at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics in what was the nation’s golden age in the sport.

Known as The Wizard or The Magician of hockey for his brilliant ball control, Chand played internationally from 1926 to 1949, scoring 570 goals in 185 matches according to his autobiography, Goal. His birthday, 29 August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in India every year.


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