Mary Kom gets Khel Ratna while Sarita receives Arjuna

New Delhi, Jul 29 (IANS): For the first time since the inception of the Rajiv Khel Ratna Award in 1991, three sportspersons -- four-time world boxing champion Mangte Chungneijang Marykom, Olympic bronze medallists boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar -- will receive the country's highest sporting honour.
Mary will be the second sporstperson from the state to receive the prestigious award after weightlifter Nameirakpam Kunjarani.
The only other time more than one sportsperson was bestowed the award was in 2002-03 when shooter Anjali Vedpathak and athlete K.M. Beenamol shared it.
Meanwhile, chief minister of Manipur, O Ibobi Singh and his SPF government expressed happiness over the selection of Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Laishram Sarita for the Arjuna Award.
The chief minister said that four-time world boxing champion May Kom and international player Sarita were really rare and talented players. He expressed his pride at getting the most prestigious sports award by the players of the state and also asked the young players to concentrate and become good players while assuring that sports would surely bring peace to the state.
N Biren Singh, state minister for youth affairs and sports also expressed his happiness over the awards to be given to the players of the state and felt proud of such achievements by the state’s boxing players.
The sports ministry also announced the list of 15 Arjuna Award winners Wednesday.
India's opening batsman Gautam Gambhir, world No.6 badminton player Saina Nehwal and trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi, who equalled the world record, are among those selected for the Arjuna Award.
The selection committee headed by former table tennis player Indu Puri also selected Olympic medallist Sushil's coach Satpal and former All England Badminton champion and Saina's coach Pullela Gopichand for the Dronacharya Award.
The prize money for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand Awards have been increased.
Khel Ratna prize money has been hiked from Rs.500,000 to Rs.750,000 while Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyanchand Awards prize money has been increased from Rs.300,000 to Rs.500,000.
List of awardees:
Rajiv Khel Ratna: M.C. Marykom (boxer), Vijender Kumar (boxer) and Sushil Kumar (wrestling)
Arjuna Award: Mangal Singh Champia (archery), Sinimol Paulose (athletics), Saina Nehwal (badminton), L. Sarita Devi (boxing), Tania Sachdeva (chess), Gautam Gambhir (cricket), Ignatius Tirkey (hockey), Surinder Kaur (hockey), Pankaj Shirsat (kabaddi), Satish Joshi (rowing), Ranjan Sodhi (shooting), Poulami Ghatak (table tennis), Yogeshwar Dutt (wrestling), G.L. Yadav (yachting), Parul Parmar (badminton disabled)
Dronacharya Award: Baldev Singh (hockey), Jaidev Bisht (boxing), Satpal (wrestling) and Pullela Gopichand (badminton)
Dhyanchand Award: Ishar Singh Deol (athletics), Satbir Singh Dahya (wrestling)

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