Wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Indian Women’s Hockey Team Captian Rani Rampal and table tennis player Manika Batra have been recommended along with five athletes for Khel Ratna Award for the year 2020. Women’s hockey team player Deepika Thakur is also among those selected among 29 other male athletes for the Arjuna Award.

This is for the first time in the history that a total of five athletes have been recommended for the Khel Ratna Award by a Sports Ministry committee. This is also a departure from the last two years, when four athletes were being nominated for the country’s highest sports honour. For the first time in the year 2016, four athletes received the Khel Ratna award, namely, four athletes star shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik.

This year, other than the women athletes, star cricketer Rohit Sharma and Paralympic gold-winning high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu have also been recommended for the award. However, the final decision will be taken by the sports minister Kiren Rijju, reported the Times of India

Also Read: Why Don’t We Celebrate Our International Para-Athlete Champions?

For the Arjuna Award, India’s pacer Ishant Sharma, recurve archer Achanu Das, kabaddi player Deepak Hooda and tennis player Divij Sharan have also made their place in the 29 short-listed athletes. According to Outlook India, bronze-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu have also been approved by the selection committee for Arjuna Award shortlist. However, they still need the approval of Sports Minister Rijju for their final selection.

The selection committee of 12-members comprised of Virendra Sehwag and former Hockey Captain Sardar Singh. The committee met at Sports Authority of India and shortlisted the names on Tuesday, August 17, 2020.

A Look At The Women Nominees

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award of 2020 considers the achievements of the athletes in the period starting from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2019.

Vinesh Phogat

Vinesh Phogat has been short-listed for Khel Ratna because she won gold medals in 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games and bronze in 2019 Asian Wrestling Championship. According to the Times of India, the delighted and proud Phogat has promised to live up to the expectations that the award confers on her.

Rani Rampal

While Rani Rampal, the captain of Women’s Hockey Team is the third hockey player and the only woman player to get the recommendation for the award. Rampal has won this accolade for leading the team to a historic victory Women’s Asia Cup of 2017. She also won a silver medal at 2018 Asian Games. What also made her recommendation significant was her critical role in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers of 2019 when she scored a game-changing goal that helped India qualify for Tokyo Olympics.

Manika Batra 

Lastly, table tennis player Manika Batra won the recommendation for Khel Ratna for her benchmark performance in the year 2018. She won the gold medal in Commonwealth Games and bronze in women’s singles of Asian Games.

Deepika Thakur

Arjuna Award short-listed athlete Deepika Thakur is the most senior field hockey player in the Indian Women’s Hockey Team. She was the nominee for Arjuna Award in 2017 also. Moreover, in the year 2018, Thakur won a silver medal in Asian Games and 5th Asian Champion Trophy. She was the winner of the Women Hockey World League Semifinal hed in 2017.

Every year the National Sports Award ceremony was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan. But due to the pandemic, for the first time, the ceremony will be held virtually on August 29, 2020. All the nominees will be logging in from their respective places and hear their names announced for the honours.

Also Read: Poonam Yadav: First Uttar Pradesh Woman Cricketer To Get Arjuna Award

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