Vijay, Dutt conferred with Khel Ratna

New Delhi: A thunderous applause greeted London Olympic heroes, Vijay Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, as they jointly received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award – country`s highest sporting honour – in a glittering ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, here on Wednesday.

An unprecedented 25 sportspersons, including cricketer Yuvraj Singh, were conferred with the Arjuna Award by President Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of a host of Ministers, dignitaries and sports celebrities.

Pistol shooter Vijay had won a silver in the 25m rapid fire event at the London Games, while wrestler Yogeshwar bagged a bronze in 60kg free style event. Both the medallists collected the trophy that consists of a medal, citation and cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh each.

"It`s the biggest award that I have received in my career. I am really excited and feeling proud. I would like to maintain my Olympic form into the next big events like Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. I will begin my practice at Mhow from next month," said Vijay.

The 29-year-old Yogeshwar, who had injured his right eye during bouts at the London Games, gave credit to his `gurus` and parents for helping him chase and realise his dream of winning an Olympic medal.

"It is a great occasion for us and the happiest moment of our lives. It is a proud moment for me. I am thankful to the people of the country and to all my well wishers who have shown great faith in me," he said.

The choices were made by a selection committee headed by 2004 Olympics silver-medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and comprised noted sportspersons such as Akhil Kumar (boxing), Khajan Singh (swimming) and Bhaichung Bhutia (football) among others besides a few bureaucrats.