New Delhi: The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has recommended the names of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Current number one wrestler Punia recently stamped his authority on Asia after he won the Asian Wrestling Championships in Xi’an, China.
Punia had last year won the gold medal in the 65-kg freestyle wrestling event at the Asian Games held in Jakarta. He defeated Japanese wrestler Takatani Daichi 11-8. Before that, he had also won the gold medal in the same category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He overcame Kane Charig of Wales by Technical Superiority to clinch the gold.
On the other hand, Vinesh became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in both Commonwealth and Asian games. At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Vinesh won gold in women’s freestyle 50-kg event by defeating Canada’s Jessica MacDonald. In the 2018 Asian Games, she created history as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in the games by beating Japan’s Yuki Irie in women’s 50-kg freestyle wrestling gold medal match.
She also became the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards held in February 2019. Apart from Vinesh and Bajrang, the WFI has recommended Rahul Aware, Harpreet Singh, Divya Kakran and Pooja Dhanda for the Arjuna Award while Virender Kumar, Sujeet Maan, Narendra Kumar and Vikram Kumar have been recommended for Dronacharya Award. Bheem Singh and Jai Prakash have been recommended for the Dhyan Chand Award.