One of the most prestigious awards to an honour sportsperson in India is Khel Ratna Award that was named as Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award formerly. On Friday 6th August 2020, the Award has been renamed as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award after the men and women hockey team outshined in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he was receiving lots of requests from all over India to rename the Khel Ratna Award as the Major Dhyan Chand Award. He tweeted, “Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! 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,”
Why Khel Ratna Award has been renamed the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award now?
After both men and women hockey teams made an exceptional performance in the Tokyo Olympics, the entire nation has gathered their attention and imagination to promote the game by honouring sports players with prestigious awards. According to the Prime Minister, a renewed interest can be seen towards sports amongst Indians which needs to be acknowledged.
On 6th August, the government declared that the new Khel Ratna Award will be known as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award to honour sports personalities in India.
About Khel Ratna Award
The Khel Ratna Award came into existence between 1991 and 1992. The first sports player to receive this prestigious award was an ace chess player named Viswanathan Anand. Some of the other players who had been honoured by Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award include Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Paes, Abhinav Bindra, Dhanraj Pillay, Mary Kom, Pullela Gopichand, Anju Bobby George and Rani Rampal.
Not just the name of the award has been renamed but now it includes a cash prize worth 25 lakhs with it. Other than Khel Ratna Award, India has Dhyan Chand Award that was approved in 2002 to award lifetime achievements made in the sports field.
Interesting facts about Major Dhyan Chand
- Dhyan Chand was born on 29th August 1905 in Prayagraj. He was known as ‘Chand’ meaning moon by his friends since he was mostly seen practising under the moonlight after completing his duty hours.
- Dhyan Chand is known as one of the best hockey players worldwide who played hockey for India.
- He used to dominate the sport during World War II and made India win gold three consecutive times in Olympic Games dated 1928, 1932 and 1936.
- Dhyan Chand was so good at the sport that he earned major titles such as ‘The magician’ and ‘Hockey Wizard’.
- Although Dhyan Chand played several hockey games and tournaments, he started playing the sport seriously when he played with British Indian Army between 1922 and 1926.
- When he played during his days in the army, the Indian Hockey Federation was formed at that time and were highly impressed by the Dhyan Chand game which made him join the 1928 Olympics team.
- During his first Olympic match, Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals in 5 matches thereby positioning him as the top-scorer.
- Dhyan Chand did not have to give any trials for his second Olympic match in 1932. His brother Roop Singh was too added to the team.
- Dhyan Chand scored 12 goals in Los Angeles Games and was outshined by his brother only who scored 13.
- In the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Dhyan Chand was the captain of the Indian hockey team.
- In the Berlin Games, Dhyan Chand scored 11 goals in 5 matches. Overall, he made 37 goals in 12 matches across three editions along with Olympic medals.
- Dhyan Chand was in his forties when World War II broke out. This was the time India formed its independent Indian hockey team that participated in the 1948 Olympics Game. Though, he was not a part of the team this time.
- He retired from the Indian army as a Lieutenant after serving the nation for 34 years in 1956 August. He was honoured with prestigious awards such as India’s third-highest civilian honour and Padma Bhushan Award.
- Although he was known as Lieutenant by the Gazette of India till he retired, he is more popularly known as the ‘Wizard Major’ Dhyan Chand in India.
- National Sports Day in India is celebrated on 29th August each year to celebrate Dhyan Chand birthday.
- Dhyan Chand passed away due to liver cancer on 3rd December 1979. He is known as one of the greatest hockey players to date.