[India], Aug.3 (ANI): India's star para athlete Devendra Jhajharia, who will be honoured with this year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, admitted on Thursday that he would have been much happier had he been chosen for the prestigious award 12 years ago when he clinched the gold medal at the Athens Paralympics.
Jhajharia, who clinched gold in men's F46 javelin throw at the Rio Paralympics, became the first Paralympic athlete to receive country's highest sporting honour.
"I think I am the first Paralympic athlete to have been recommended for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. I believe I should have received this award 12 years ago when I won gold and made world record in Athens Olympics. I would have been much happier had I won the award 12 years back. But I am getting it today, I am very happy,"Jhajharia told ANI.
The 36-year-old further insisted that his responsibility towards his nation has increased even more after being nominated for the coveted prize.
"Now my responsibility towards my nation has even increased more. My aim is that I continue playing for my country and bring many more medals for India," he added.
Jhajharia, who also clinched the gold medal in the javelin event at the 2004 Athens Paralympics with a record throw of 62.15 metres, became the first Indian to bag two gold medals at the Paralympics after he broke his own world record to win the top honours at the Rio Olympics.
The Rajasthan-born athlete, with an amputated left hand, improved upon it with an attempt of 63.97 metres at the Olympic Stadium (Engenhao) in Rio de Janeiro.
Jhajharia was also awarded the Arjuna award in 2004 while he also became the first Paralympian to receive the Padma Shri in 2012.
Along with Jhajharia, former Indian hockey skipper Sardar Singh, who was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2012, will be honoured with the prestigious medal.
The prestigious award is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years.
Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag and former sprint queen P.T. Usha were among the 12-member committee who picked this year's Khel Ratna and Arjuna awardees.
The committee, headed by Justice (retd) C K Thakkar, had Mukund Killekar (boxing), Sunil Dabbas (Kabaddi), M R Mishra (Journalist), S Kannan (Journalist), Sanjeev Kumar (Journalist), Latha Madhvi (Para athlete), Anil Khanna (sports administrator), Injeti Srinivas (DG, SAI) and Rajvir Singh (joint Secretary, Sports Ministry) as other members. (ANI)