Jhajharia, Venkatesh Prasad in panel to decide National Sports Awards

Three-time Paralympic medallist Devendra Jhajharia is among sportspersons who have been included in the selection panel for this year’s National Sports Awards. Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Mukundakum Sharma, has been named as the chairperson of the committee.

According to information received, veteran boxer Savita Devi, hockey coach Baldev Singh, former rifle shooter Anjali Bhagwat and former India fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad are the other sportspersons included in the panel. Former India women’s cricket captain Anjum Chopra is also among the selectors, although she has been included as a journalist and commentator.

Speaking to IANS, Jhajharia, India’s most decorated Paralympian, expressed his delight by saying, “I am happy that the sports ministry considered me for the selection committee. It is an honour to be part of it, and other members of the committee also understand sports so well.”

Jhajharia won a silver medal at the recent Tokyo Games, adding to the two gold medals he had won in the 2004 and 2016 editions.

The committee will be meeting in the next few days to decide the winners. This year’s awards were delayed after the government decided to wait for India’s performance at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The selection committee also includes Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan, and journalists Vikrant Gupta and Vijay Lokapally.

The country bagged historic results in both the events with an unprecedented seven medals in the Olympics being followed by a record haul of 19, including five gold, at the Paralympics.

The highest honour is the Khel Ratna award, which was rechristened from Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna this year, followed by the Arjuna Award. The Khel Ratna carries a prize money of Rs 25 lakh, while the Arjuna comes with a prize money of Rs 15 lakh.

For coaches, the Dronacharya award is there. The annual honours also include the Lifetime Achievement award, the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, and the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) trophy for the year 2021.