Ace marksman Jitu Rai, who was conferred the country's highest sporting honour Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on 29 August, said that the prestigious award will motivate him to scale greater heights.
"I feel extremely proud to have been honoured with the prestigious award. This will certainly motivate me to perform better in the upcoming tournaments," Jitu said.
Considered as India's biggest medal hope in the lead up to the Rio Olympics, the 29-year-old failed to live up to the expectations as he finished eighth in the men's 10m air pistol final.
"I was performing well till the Rio Olympics, but unfortunately I couldn't replicate my form in the final despite putting up a good show in the qualifying round," Jitu said while reflecting on his performance in the quadrennial event.
Determined to erase memories of the Rio Games, the world number three army man insisted that he will work harder for the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Jitu received the coveted prize from President Pranab Mukherjee in a glittering ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the occasion of National Sports Day.
The Khel Ratna is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years. However, the government decided to give away the award to four athletes (PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar and Jitu) for the first time.
In June, Jitu won his sixth World Cup medal and second of the year after clinching silver in Baku.