New Delhi : Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were Monday jointly recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, while star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was among 20 sportspersons picked for the Arjuna Awards.
Besides Chopra, other prominent names recommended for the Arjuna Awards were junior world champion sprinter Hima Das and Asian Games gold-medallist middle distance runner Jinson Johnson, cricketer Smriti Mandhana, hockey players Manpreet Singh and Savita Punia, multiple Commonwealth Games gold-medallist table tennis star Manika Batra and Asiad doubles gold-medallist tennis player Rohan Bopanna.
These recommendations by a selection committee headed by Justice (retd.) Indermeet Kaul Kochhar are subject to approval by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Once ratified by him, President Ram Nath Kovind will present the awards on September 25 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Kohli will become the third Indian cricketer to win the country’s highest sporting honour after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and the talismanic former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007) once the sports ministry officially accepts the committee’s recommendation.
“Yes, Virat Kohli and Mirabai Chanu’s names have been recommended by the awards committee,” a top source said on condition of anonymity.
Arjuna Award Recommendations:
Neeraj Chopra (Athletics); Jinson Johnson (Athletics), Hima Das (Athletics); N Sikki Reddy (Badminton); Satish Kumar (Boxing); Smriti Mandhana (Cricket); Shubhankar Sharma (Golf); Manpreet Singh (Hockey); Savita (Hockey); Ravi Rathore (Polo); Rahi Sarnobat (Shooting); Ankur Mittal (Shooting); Shreyashi Singh (Shooting); Manika batra (Table Tennis); G Sathiyan (Table Tennis); Rohan Bopanna (Tennis); Sumit (Wrestling); Pooja Kadian (Wushu); Ankur Dhama (Para athletics); Manoj Sarkar (Para badminton).
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Recommendations: Virat Kohli (cricket) and Mirabai Chanu (weightlifting).
National archery compound coach Jiwanjot Singh Teja is set to become one of the youngest Dronacharya awardees after the 34-year old’s name was recommended for the honour along with Asian Games gold medallist Arpinder Singh’s coach S S Pannu. The selection committee picked Teja along with Pannu.
Also recommended for the Dronacharya award are CA Kuttappa (boxing), Vijay Sharma (weightlifting) and A Srinivasa Rao (table tennis), according to the sources in the Sports Ministry.
Kohli is one of those rare sportspersons, who has received Padma Shri award (2017) before Khel Ratna.
This year, Kohli was a favourite after having led India to victories against England and Australia at home and away wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka.
The Indian team has also won limited-overs series in South Africa under Kohli’s leadership.
He is a member of the 2011 ICC World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy winning team. He also led the team to the finals of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
Kohli has also been the recipient of ICC’s ‘ODI Cricketer of the Year’ in 2012 and 2017 along with the sport’s highest honour — the ICC Cricketer of the Year. Kohli has won the Indian Cricketer of the Year on five occasions.
He ended the recent England series with a phenomenal 593 runs even though it was not considered in the selection cycle.
For Chanu, the award comes as a massive morale-booster as she is currently recovering from a lower back injury, which forced her to skip the Asian Games. She is the current Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and India’s only medal hope in weightlifting going into 2020 Olympics.