India sent its largest contingent ever in the Rio Paralympics, comprising 19 athletes, and four of them have brought huge glory to India, winning medals. Both Devendra Jhajharia and Mariyappan Thangavelu won gold, while Deepak Malik and Varun Singh Bhati won silver and bronze, respectively.
Javelin thrower Jhajharia was mighty impressive in his performance as he broke his old world record to win gold. Mariyappan and Bhati finished in first and third place in the men's high jump T42 finals on Day 2 of the competition. Malik became the first Indian para athlete woman from India to win a medal in the Paralympics as she grabbed silver in the Shot Put F-52 event.
These medallists from India have a reason to rejoice as the sports ministry has decided to confer them with the Khel Ratna next year. It is the highest sporting honour a sportsperson can receive in India.
PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik were also awarded the same after their stupendous silver and bronze medal winning performance in Rio. Jitu Rai and Dipa Karmakar also received the honours.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel said the performance of the para athletes is similar to that of Sindhu, who was also present then at the Pullela Gopichand academy, and the rest, hence they should also be given the award.
"All the paralympic medallists will be treated at par with other Olympic medallists. They will also be getting Khel Ratna," the Times of India quoted Goel as saying.
"I think winning an Olympic medal is a bigger achievement than Khel Ratna. Let's ask (PV) Sindhu. Sindhu also says she prefers the Olympic medal. Paralympic athletes brought a huge honour to the country. We are proud of them and they will be rewarded in the same manner like Sindhu and Sakshi."
Such steps by the government will help play an important role in encouraging other para athletes to do well at international events.