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Devendra Jhajharia, hockey coach Baldev Singh, Venkatesh Prasad named in National Sports Awards selection committee

NEW DELHI: Three-time Paralympic medal-winning javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad and former world champion boxer L Sarita Devi have been named in the selection committee for this year’s National Sports Awards.

Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Mukundakum Sharma has been picked as the chairperson of the committee, which also includes hockey coach Baldev Singh, who turned the Shahabad academy into a nursery of international women players; decorated former shooter Anjali Bhagwat; and former women’s cricket team captain Anjum Chopra, the sports ministry stated in a circular.

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 country notched up 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.

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was the biggest star of the Olympics with a gold, which was India’s first athletics medal at the Games and the first top finish in 13 years.

The highest honour is the Khel Ratna award, whih 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.

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

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