Flash bulbs worked overtime and made the sport stars shine brightly in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan as President Ram Nath Kovind presented the National sports and adventure awards on Tuesday.
Starting with the Rajiv Khel Ratna to weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and Virat Kohli, the packed audience applauded every awardee, making it an emotional experience for the achievers.
Except for woman cricketer Smriti Mandana and tennis ace Rohan Bopanna, busy with international commitments, every other awardee was present.
It was a moving sight when the President walked up to blind para-athlete Ankur Dhama to present the award to a thunderous applause.
It was a solemn moment when Ravi Kumar was presented the Tenzing Norgay adventure award posthumously. The young mountaineer had lost his life on the descent after conquering Mount Everest last year. The applause was long and touching when the award was received by his father.
Quite understandably, most of the athletes were lost for words. Asian Games heroes Hima Das and Jinson Johnson said they were focused on doing better in the Asian and World championships.
Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar) won the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad award for the 23rd time.
It was an evening to cherish for sports-persons across disciplines, ranging from cricket to Wushu, not to forget the land, water and air adventure awardees.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna: Mirabhai Chanu and Virat Kohli.