He also paid tributes to Sammakka-Sarakka and recalled the spirit of unity and valour they personify.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Friday that he was naming the nation’s highest award for sports in response to “many requests from citizens across India”. It will now be called Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award after the hockey wizard who won three Olympic gold medals for India from 1928 to 1936.
Instituted in 1991-92, the Khel Ratna Award was named after the late former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and India’s chess prodigy Viswanathan Anand was its first recipient.
Some of its notable recipients are baize sport exponents Geet Sethi and Pankaj Advani, boxer MC Mary Kom, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, shooters Abhinav Bindra and Vijay Kumar, shuttler PV Sindhu and wrestler Sushil Kumar.
The Award is administered by the Sports Ministry and given away every year at a special function by the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan.
“I have been getting many requests from citizens across India to name the Khel Ratna Award after Major Dhyan Chand. I thank them for their views. Respecting their sentiment, the Khel Ratna Award will hereby be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award! Jai Hind!” tweeted the PM.
Retweeting PM Modi’s announcement about the Khel Ratna being named Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said, “Major Dhyan Chand is India’s most legendary & loved sporting icons; it is only befitting that India’s Highest Sporting Honour be named after him. His life and achievements have inspired generations of sportspersons who have achieved glory for India.”