Indian cricketer Mithali Raj took to social media to share her happiness and gratitude after receiving the Khel Ratna Award on Saturday.

The legendary cricketer, who has played 12 Tests, 220 One-Day Internationals and 89 T20Is in her glittering career, received the honour from President Ram Nath Kovind along with 10 other athletes in New Delhi.

In a post shared on Instagram, Mithali reflected on her cricketing journey and said she hopes young girls will look at her and be inspired to chase their dreams.

Mithali, who has a number of records to her name, is the first-ever woman cricketer to receive the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

Here’s what Mithali wrote in her Instagram post:

When I was growing up and learning to play this amazing game, representing my country was my dream . I always wanted to wear the blue jersey, which represents the absolute pride we feel for our nation.
One strives for mastery but there are so many variables and infinite parameters that when success comes by, it often is a result of hours of grind every day. This award is a validation of those hours . Of all the sacrifices a player makes her entire life . I just wanted to give cricket everything I had and I think I am happy that I’ve pushed myself harder and harder to get to this momentous day .

Today, I am honored, proud and fortunate to be a part of Indian cricket.

This journey has been arduous but not without the support of my mentors, family, friends and seniors who paved the way for all of us and my teammates .
Women in sport are powerful catalysts of change and when they get the appreciation they deserve, it inspires change in several other women wanting to achieve their dreams . I sincerely hope that my journey inspires young girls all across the country to pursue their dreams and know that only when you dream can you make it happen.

Any recognition from the government is special and a reminder that our game, our sport is an important constituent of our national pride and we must continue to give it our best. I owe so much to my country, my institution Indian Railway, administrators ,selectors, my coaches, trainers , physiotherapists , masseuses , my supporters and fans for their patience and encouragement. This accolade is not mine alone but I share it with each one who have had a part to play in my journey .
Last but importantly I express my warm gratitude to our Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji who has bestowed this very prestigious honor upon me . I further extend my hearthfelt gratitude to the Hon’ble Sports Minister Mr. Anurag Thakur ji , our Hon. Secretary Mr. Jay Shah ji, President Mr. Sourav Ganguly ji and the BCCI, for believing in me and considering me for this coveted Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award. It is indeed a huge honour & responsibility for me and I hope to do my best for my country .
- Mithali