Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is the highest prize given to sportspersons in India. The award is named after the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi.
The award is conferred to deserving sportspersons for exceptional and outstanding performance in various sporting disciplines such as Athletics, Gymnastics, Billiards, Badminton, Boxing, Cricket, Chess, Field hockey, Shooting, Tennis, Snooker, Wrestling, and Weightlifting.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh. It also comprises of a medallion and a certificate. There is a twelve-member committee that evaluates the performances of sportspersons at different International events such as the Olympic Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Paralympics. This committee then submits their recommendations to the Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, who take the final decision.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award was instituted in 1991. When first introduced, the sportspersons were judged over a period of just one year. Now, based on a new set of criteria, the athletes are judged over a period of four years.
The very first recipient of this award was the greatest chess player of his generation, Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. He received the prize in 1992. Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra was the youngest recipient of the award, when he won it at the age of 18 in 2001.
Recently, badminton player P. V. Sindhu, who won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics, was conferred the prize. Wrestler Sakshi Malik, who won a bronze in the Rio Olympics, has also been conferred the award. Gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai have been awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna as well.
|1993–94||Garg Pushpendra Kumar||Yachting|
|1999–2000||Dhanraj Pillay||Hockey (Men)|
|2002||K. M. Beenamol||Athletics|
|2003||Anju Bobby George||Athletics|
|2004||Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore||Shooting|
|2006||Manavjit Singh Sandhu||Shooting|
|2007||Mahendra Singh Dhoni||Cricket|
|2009||Mary Kom||Boxing (Women)|
|2016||P. V. Sindhu||Badminton|
|2017||Devendra Jhajharia||Para Athlete|
|2018||Saikhom Mirabai Chanu||Weightlifting|