Ace shooter Gagan Narang who notched up four gold medals at last year’s Commonwealth Games was on Monday conferred the country’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — in a glittering ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.
The 28-year-old rifle shooter, who was the first Indian marksman to qualify for next year’s London Olympics with a bronze in the World Championships last year, was an automatic choice for the prestigious award.
Narang, who was disgruntled at being ‘ignored’ for the award last year, collected the trophy that consists of a medal, citation and cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh from President Pratibha Patil.
Besides winning four gold medals in the 2010 CWG, Narang bagged a silver in the men’s 10m air rifle singles event at the Asian Games last year.
He also won a team silver at the Asian Games when he combined with Abhinav Bindra and Sanjeev Rajput in the 10m air rifle event.
Among the Arjuna awardees, the most high-profile among the ones chosen this year — Indian pace spearhead Zaheer Khan — could not attend the function as he was recently operated upon on his injured ankle in England.
Others who were also not present due to varied reasons were tennis ace Somdev Devvarman, gymnast Ashish Kumar and discus thrower Vikas Gowda.
Badminton ace Jwala Gutta and India’s first woman world champion Tejaswini Sawant, who clinched the top honours in the 50m rifle prone event, were among the star athletes who received the Arjuna award.
Suranjoy Singh (Boxing), Sunil Chhetri (Football) and Rajpal Singh (Hockey), also collected their trophies personally. (PTI)