Khel Ratna Award background
Khel Ratna was instituted by the Indian government in 1991. Initially, this award was given for performances delivered in the previous year. After the BJP government assumed power in 2014, the Khel Ratna was renamed, and the parameters for this award also changed. Now, every athlete who delivers outstanding performance during the previous four years can be considered for this honour.
The following events are considered for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.:
- Asian Games
- Commonwealth Games
A 12-member committee evaluates each candidate for this award. Once the final list is ready, the committee sends it to the Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs for a final decision.
The first recipient
Chess Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand was the first recipient of the Khel Ratna Award (1991-1992). Anand is a legend in the world of chess, and has won several major international titles in this game.
Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra became the youngest recipient of this prestigious award in 2001. Bindra won the Gold for Shooting in the 2000 Olympics.
Usually, this award is given to only one athlete in a year. However, exceptions were made in 1993-1994, 2002, 2009, 2012 and 2016-2021.
So far, 57 athletes have received the Khel Ratna in the following disciplines:
- Field Hockey
- Para Athletics/Badminton/ Shooting
- Table Tennis
- Yacht Racing