Bengaluru: Today (August 29) is National Sports Day. To commemorate the legendary Indian hockey player Major Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary, it was decided in 2012 to celebrate it as National Sports Day.

Every year, on this special day, sportspersons across India promote the importance of sports. On National Sports Day, major awards including Khel Ratna, Arjuna Awards and Dronacharya Awards and Dhyan Chand Award are presented to deserving athletes.

In 2019, two sportspersons have been selected for the highest sporting honour in the country – Khel Ratna. Para athlete Deepa Malik and wrestler Bajrang Punia have been nominated for the award. Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja is in the list of Arjuna awardees.

Dhyan Chand, who was known as “The Wizard”, was born on August 29, 1905. He won three Olympic hockey golds (1928, 1932 and 1936). He captained the Indian team at the 1936 Games in Berlin. He scored more than 1,000 goals in his illustrious career that spanned nearly 25 years. He retired from the sport in 1949.

Dhyan Chand is considered as the greatest hockey player of all time. He had joined the British Indian Army at the age of 16. His real name was Dhyan Singh but was given the name “Chand” (moon) as he practiced under moonlight.

Today marks the 114th birth anniversary. He had passed away on December 3, 1979.

Once cricket legend Sir Don Bradman of Australia remarked that Dhyan Chand “scored goals like runs”. Bradman is considered as the greatest cricketer of all time, having retired with an average of 99.94 in 52 Tests.

Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch “Fit India Moment”. He had mentioned about this in his episode of “Mann ki Baat” on August 25.

“My dear countrymen, all of you will remember that the 29th of August is celebrated as 'National Sports Day'. On this occasion, we are going to launch the 'Fit India Movement' across the country. We have to keep ourselves fit and the nation has to be made fit,” PM Modi said.

“It will be a very interesting campaign for everyone — children, the elderly, the young and women and it will be your own movement. But today I am not going to reveal its specifics; you must wait for 29th August! I will tell you about 'Fit India Movement' in detail on 29th August and I am not going to forget connecting you with the movement because I want to see you fit! I want to make you aware about fitness and for a fit India, we should unite to set some goals for the country. My dear countrymen, I will be waiting for your participation on 29th August in 'Fit India Movement',” he added.

There have been several calls by fans and former players to give Dhyan Chand India’s highest civilian award — Bharat Ratna. However, the wait still continues.

List of sportspersons nominated for various awards on National Sports Day 2019

Khel Ratna: Bajrang Punia (wrestling), Deepa Malik (para-athletics)

Arjuna Award: Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (athletics), Mohammed Anas Yahiya (athletics), S Bhaskaran (body building), Sonia Lather (boxing), Ravindra Jadeja (cricket), Chinglensana Kangujam (hockey), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi), Gaurav Singh Gill (motor sports), Pramod Bhagat (para sports-badminton), Anjum Moudgil (shooting), Harmeet Rajul Desai (table tennis), Pooja Dhanda (wrestling), Fouaad Mirza (equestrian), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (football), Poonam Yadav (cricket), Swapna Burman (athletics), Sundar Singh Gurjar (para sports-athletics), Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth (badminton), Simran Singh Shergill (polo).

Dronacharya Award (regular category): Vimal Kumar (badminton), Sandeep Gupta (table tennis), Mohinder Singh Dhillon (athletics)

Dronacharya Award (lifetime category): Mezban Patel (hockey), Rambir Singh Khokar (kabaddi), Sanjay Bhardwaj (cricket).

Dhyan Chand Award: Manuel Fredricks (hockey), Arup Basak (table tennis), Manoj Kumar (wrestling), Nitten Kirrtane (tennis), C Lalremsanga (archery).