Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award : List of Winners


The words “Khel Ratna” literally mean “sports gem” in Hindi. The award is named after the late Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India. It is India’s highest honour given for achievement in sports, given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, government of India and was established in 1991-92.

The objective of the award is to recognize the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years immediately preceding the year during which the award is to be given.


The spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years immediately preceding the year during which award is to be given shall be honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for excellence in  Sports & Games at international level i.e. Olympic/Asian/ Commonwealth/World Games/Championships/World Cup and equivalent recognized international tournaments.

Sportsperson who have been penalized or against whom inquiry is pending/ongoing for use of drugs/substances banned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) based on a sample collected by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) or any other agency authorized by WADA and tested by National Dope Testing Laboratory or any other WADA accredited laboratory, will not be eligible for the Award.


  1. Viswanathan Anand, 1991-92, Chess

Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand, an Indian chess Grand master and former World Chess Champion is one of nine players in history to pass 2800 Elo on the FIDE rating list. He occupied the number one position for 21 months, the 6th longest on record. Viswanathan Anand became India’s first grand master in 1988. He was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92 and was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sports person to receive the award.

  1. Geet Sethi,1992-93, Billiards

Geet Siriram Sethi is a professional player of English billiards who dominated the sport throughout much of the 1990s, and a notable amateur (ex-pro) snooker player. He is a six-time winner of the professional-level and a three-time winner of the amateur World Championships, and holder of two world records, in English billiards. He, along with Prakash Padukone, has co-founded Olympic Gold Quest, a Foundation for the Promotion of Sports in India.

  1. Homi D. Motivala, 1994-95, Yachting

He received the Arjuna award for best performance in yachting for the year 1993, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award jointly with P. K. Garg for overall best performance in sports for the year 1994–95 and the Dronacharya Award for “Coaching excellence in Yachting” for the year 2002. He also received its gallantry award, the Shaurya Chakra, in 1983.

  1. Cdr. Pushpendra Kumar Garg, 1994-95, Yachting

Captain Pushpendra Kumar Garg, is an Indian sportsperson in yachting. He was born in Sasni in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh. He studied at Sainik School, Lucknow, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla before joining the Indian Navy.

  1. Karnam Malleswari, 1995-96, Weightlifting

Karnam Malleswari is an Indian weightlifter. During her ten years career, she won 11 gold and three silver medals besides the prestigious Olympic bronze. She has been the National Champion for nine years (twice in the 52 kg category and seven times in the 54 kg category).

  1. Nameirakpam Kunjarani, 1996-97, Weightlifting

Nameirakpam Kunjarani Devi is the most decorated Indian sportswoman in weightlifting. Her first World Women’s Weightlifting Championship was the Manchester edition in 1989 and the reward of three silver medals buoyed her spirits considerably. Since then she has taken part in seven successive World Championships and with the exception of the Melbourne edition in 1993, she has won medals at every one of those competitions.

  1. Leander Paes, 1996-97, Tennis

Leander Adrian Paes is an Indian professional tennis player who is considered to be one of the best doubles and mixed doubles players in the world.

He has won eight doubles and eight mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, and is the oldest man to have won a Grand Slam title. He holds a career Grand Slam in men’s doubles, achieved the rare men’s doubles/mixed doubles double at the 1999 Wimbledon tournament. His mixed doubles Wimbledon title in 2010 made him the second man (after Rod Laver) to win Wimbledon titles in three decades.

  1. Sachin Tendulkar, 1997-98, Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar is a former Indian cricketer and captain, widely regarded to be one of the greatest cricketers of all time and by many as the greatest batsman of all time. In 2002 just half way through his career, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him the second greatest Test batsman of all time, behind Don Bradman, and the second greatest ODI batsman of all time, behind Viv Richards.

  1. Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, 1998-99, Athletics

Jyotirmoye Sikdar was a middle distance runner and won the 800 metres at the 1995 Asian Athletics Championships. She went on to win the bronze medals in 800 m and 1500 m events in the 1998 Asian Athletics Championships and gold medals in both the events in the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998. She was was a Member of Parliament, India representing Krishnagar (Lok Sabha constituency) of West Bengal in the 14th Lok Sabha.

  1. Dhanraj Pillay, 1999-2000, Hockey

Dhanraj Pillay is an Indian field hockey player and former captain of the Indian hockey team. He is currently the manager of the Indian hockey team. Also he is a member of the ad hoc committee of Indian Hockey Federation, formed after the suspension of Kanwar Pal Singh Gill.

  1. Pullela Gopichand, 2000-01, Badminton

Pullela Gopichand won the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 becoming the second Indian to achieve this feat after Prakash Padukone. He runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy. He received the Dronacharya Award in 2009 and Arjuna Award in 1999, the only Indian to win the teacher and student awards, and the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award in 2014.

  1. Abhinav Bindra, 2001-02, Shooting

Abhinav Singh Bindra is a World and Olympic champion in the 10 m Air Rifle event. By winning the gold in the 10 m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. He is the first and only Indian to have held both the World and Olympic titles at the same time. Abhinav also won Gold Medal in 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow.

  1. Anjali Ved Pathak Bhagwat, 2002-03, Shooting

Anjali Bhagwat became the World Number One in 10m Air Rifle in 2002. She also won her first World Cup Final in Milan, in 2003, with a score of 399/400. Bhagwat won the ISSF Champion of Champions award and is the only Indian to win the ISSF Champions’ Trophy in Air Rifle Men & Women mixed event at Munich in 2002. She has represented India in three consecutive Olympics, and was a finalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, again a first for any Indian women shooter. She has won 12 gold and 4 silver medals in the Commonwealth Games. She is a Commonwealth record holder in 10m Air Rifle and Sports Rifle 3P.

  1. M. Beenamo, 2002-03, Atheletics

Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol, popularly known as K M Beenamol became the third Indian woman to reach an Olympics semi-final since P. T. Usha .

  1. Anju Bobby George, 2003-04, Atheletics

Anju Bobby George made history when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. With this achievement, she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics jumping 6.70 m. She went on to win the Gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005.

  1. co. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, 2004-05, Shooting

Rajyavardhan singh is the first sportsperson to win individual Silver for India since Norman Pritchard, who won two Silver Medals at the 1900 Paris Olympics. However, he rose to fame after winning the Silver Medal in Men’s Double Trap at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

  1. Pankaj Advani, 2005-06, Billiards and Snooker

Pankaj Advani has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in three different years: 2012, 2008 and 2008. He became a snooker professional only in 2012, and his first season on the main tour was the 2012/2013 season. He is the only player ever to win professional world titles in both the long and short formats of snooker. Advani is also India’s first world champion in 6-red snooker. On August 14th, 2014, Advani helped win the first ever World Team Billiards Championship held in Glasgow, Scotland, along whichtakes Advani’s world title tally to 10, making him the only Indian to win as many in any sport.

  1. Manavjit Singh Sandhu, 2006-07, Shooting

Manjit Singh Sandhu is a 3 time Olympian, having represented India at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 London Olympic Games. He is former World No.1 ranked Trap Shooter.

  1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 2007-08, Cricket

Dhoni holds numerous captaincy records such as most wins by an Indian captain in Tests and ODIs, and most back-to-back wins by an Indian captain in ODIs. He took over the ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid in 2007 and led the team to its first-ever bilateral ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the CB Series of 2007–08, the 2010 Asia Cup, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.

  1. Mary Kom, 2008-09, Boxing

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom also known as MC Mary Kom  is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships. Nicknamed “Magnificent Mary”, she is the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics, competing in the flyweight (51 kg) category and winning the bronze medal. She has also been ranked as No. 4 AIBA World Women’s Ranking Flyweight category. She became the first Indian woman boxer to get a Gold Medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.

  1. Vijender Singh, 2008-09, Boxing

At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, he defeated Carlos Góngora of Ecuador 9–4 in the quarterfinals which guaranteed him a bronze medal—the first ever Olympic medal for an Indian boxer. After this win, Vijender was given a number of awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award—India’s highest sporting honour.

  1. Sushil Kumar, 2008-09, Wrestling

Sushil Kumar Solanki won the gold medal in the 66 kg freestyle competition at the FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships, a silver medal in the Men’s 66kg Freestyle Wrestling event at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze medal in the Men’s 66kg Freestyle Wrestling event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the first Indian to win back to back individual Olympic medals. Sushil won the gold medal in 74 kg Men’s freestyle in 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow.

  1. Saina Nehwal, 2009-10, Badminton

Saina Nehwal is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics. She achieved this feat by winning the Bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012. She is also the first Indian after Prakash Padukone and the first Indian woman to become world number 1. Besides these, she is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and was also the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by clinching the Indonesia Open on 21 June 2009. Saina is supported by the Olympic Gold Quest.

  1. Gagan Narang, 2010-11, Shooting

Gagan Narang was the first Indian to qualify for the London Olympics. He won the Bronze Medal in the Men’s 10 m Air Rifle Event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London with a final score of 701.1 on 30 July 2012.

  1. Vijay Kumar, 2011-12, Shooting

Vijay Kumar won the silver medal in the individual 25 metre rapid fire pistol event at the 2012 Summer Olympics. While in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, held in the capital of his home country, he won three gold and 1 silver medals. He is supported by the Olympic Gold Quest initiative. He has been posted at Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) Mhow since 2003 where he is being coached by the Russian Pavel Smirnov.

  1. Yogeshwar Dutt, 2011-12, Wrestling

Yogeshwar Dutt won the Gold Medals in the 2003 Common wealth Games and at the 2008 Asian Championships in March 2008 held at Jeju City in South Korea. At the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, Yogeshwar came up with an exceptionally skillful performance to win the gold for India. Yogeshwar later won gold medals in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 Asian Games.

  1. Ronjan Sodhi, 2012-13, Shooting

Ronjan Sodhi won two silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games. In 2011, he became first Indian to successfully defend a World Cup title. He is also a recipient of the Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award (2013). He is currently ranked No. 1 in International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) world rankings.



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