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‘Olympic gold is my aim’

Special Correspondent

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

HONOURED: World Trap shooting champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award from President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: “I am blessed this award came so early in my career. This inspires me even more to go for the Olympic gold at Beijing next year. Other medals can follow.”

These words from ace trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu after receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for 2006 amply sums up the 30-year-old’s feelings on being conferred the country’s highest sporting honour on Wednesday.

Similar sentiments were echoed by several other awardees after President Pratibha Patil presented Khel Ratna, Arjuna, Dronacharya at the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

Manavjit, who pipped golfer Jeev Milkha Singh to the award, said, “I feel truly humbled by this experience. It is now time to focus on the job on hand.”

Smooth affair

The 45-minute function was a smooth affair much unlike the utter chaos that prevailed this day last year at the same venue.

Chetan Anand, who was chosen for the award in spite of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) not forwarding his name for the honour, said he was very pleased with the recognition and would try to bring greater glory to the country.

The awardees:

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Manavjit Singh Sandhu (shooting).

Dronacharya Awards: R. D. Singh (athletics), Damodran Chandralal (boxing) and K. Ashok (chess).

Arjuna Awards: Jayanta Talukdar (archery), K. M. Binu (athletics), Chetan Anand (badminton), Vijender (boxing), P. Hari Krishna (chess), Anjum Chopra (cricket), Jyoti Sunita Kullu (hockey), Navneet Gautam (kabaddi), Saurav Ghoshal (squ ash), Subhajit Saha (table tennis), Geeta Rani (weightlifting), Geetika Jakhar (wrestling) and Rohit Bhaker (badminton, disabled category).

Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement: Varinder Singh (hockey), Shamsher Singh (kabaddi) and Rajendra Singh (wrestling).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy: Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awardees: Palden Giachho (land adventure), Motuku Indra Kanth Reddy (air adventure), Tapas Chowdhury (water adventure) and Gurdial Singh (life time achievement).

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