The Khel Ratna award has been named after Major Dhyan Chand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday.
The naton’s highest sports award, which was previously named after former PM Rajiv Gandhi, will now be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award in honour of one of the greatest hockey players to have ever lived.
“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!” the Prime Minister tweeted.
“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,” PM Modi further wrote on his official Twitter profile.
The requests for the change in name increased multifold on social media following Indian hockey teams’ brilliant outings in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
While the men’s team bagged a bronze medal — ending the country’s 41-year-wait for an Olympic podium finish in the sport, the women’s team secured fourth place after pulling out stunning performances throughout the tournament.
Major Dhyan Chand, who was known for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats, played a key role in India’s three successive gold medal victories at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics. His legacy further played a huge role in India’s triumphs in the later editions of the Olympics, as the nation secured seven gold medals in eight editions of the Games between 1928 and 1964.
He represented India between 1926-1949, scoring an incredible 570 goals in merely 185 matches.
His birthday on August 29 is also celebrated as National Sports Day in India.