Devendra Jhajharia is India’s first para athlete to win Khel Ratna
Devendra Jhajharia became India’s first para athlete to get the country’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
At the ceremony, he said that the state governments need to do more for disabled athletes.
Jhajharia received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapathi Bhawan.
Javelin thrower Jhajharia is the only Indian to win two Paralympic gold medals, one at 2004 in the Athens Games, and again in 2016 at Rio.
Jhajharia said that there are five crore disabled athletes and they need more support. He asked state governments to set up separate grounds with facilities like ramps and easy movements for wheelchair-bound athletes.
36-year-old Jhajharia dedicated this award to his mother and his seven-year-old daughter.
Apart from Jhajharia, para sportspersons Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati also received the honour. The loudest cheers were reserved for Mariyappan as audiences kept applauding until Mariyappan walked up to the President and received his award.
Mariyappan had won the men’s high jump (F46) gold medal at the Rio Olympics while Bhati had claimed a silver in the same event.