Thiruvananthapuram: It is a matter of controversy that even though more than usual players were selected for the country’s sports awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and Dronacharya, not a single person from Kerala was considered. The selection committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Mukundakam Sharma, handed over the recommendation list to Union Sports Minister Kiran Rijiju yesterday. There will be an official announcement after the approval of the Minister.
Khel Ratna, which was rarely given to more than one person, was recommended to five people this time. The selection committee, which met yesterday, recommended 29 candidates for Arjuna out of 15, eight for lifetime service and five for recent service. The only consolation is that Olympian Jincy Philip won the Dhyanchand Lifetime Achievement Award after cutting out many deserving Malayalee players and coaches.
Athlete PU Chitra, who won medals at the Asian Championships and the Asian Games, and many other badminton players like HS Pranoy and Aparna Balan, who excelled at the Commonwealth Games and the BWF Open, were left out of the shortlist. Sakshi Malik and Meerabhai Chanu, who had earlier bagged the Khel Ratna, were given the Arjuna award this time.
TP Ouseph, Purushothaman and current Indian athletics team head coach Radhakrishnan Nair also applied for Dronacharya’s, but were dropped from the list. This time Dronacharya was recommended by a fourth person for coaching boxer Mary Kom. Interestingly, many coaches applied for the award in the name of the same student in many sports.
Khel Ratna for five
This is the first time five people have been recommended for Khel Ratna. In 2016, four people were awarded the highest award. Cricketer Rohit Sharma, women’s wrestler Vinesh Fogat, women’s table tennis player Manika Batra, women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal and Paralympic medalist Mariappan Thankavelu have been recommended.
Rohit, the vice-captain of the Indian team, had a stellar performance, including scoring five centuries at the World Cup last year. Tendulkar, Dhoni and Kohli were the previous recipients of the Khel Ratna from cricket.
Vinesh Fogat is a wrestler who won gold at the 2018 Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the World Championships.
Rani is being considered for leading the team to silver and qualifying for the Olympics at the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Manika was considered for making history by winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
Mariappan won gold in the high jump at the Rio Paralympics.
Recipients of Arjuna Recommendation
Ishant Sharma, Atanu Das, Deepak Hooda, Deepika Thakur, Dwij Sharan, Meerabhai Chanu, Sakshi Malik, Aakash Deep Singh, Lovelina Borogain, Manu Bhacker, Saurabh Chaudhary, Manish Kaushik, Sandesh Gingan, Datu Bhoknal, Rahul Sharma, Siva Keshavan, Madhurika Patkar, Manish Narwal, Sandeep Chaudhary, Suyash Yadav, Chirag Shetty, Swatvik Sairaj, Vishesh Bhargavanshi, Ajay Sawant, Atithi Ashok, Sarika Kale, Divya Kakaran.
Delayed relief for Jeans
After two decades of running for India in the Olympics, Malayalee athlete Jincy Philip is getting the recognition of the country. He was a member of India’s 4-400m relay team at the Sydney Olympics. He has won several medals at the national and international level in the middle distance race and long jump. His husband is Ramachandran, a former Indian athlete.
Retired Supreme Court Judge Mukundakam Sharma (Chairperson), V Render Sehwag, Sardar Singh, Monali Sa Barua, Deepa Malik, Venky Teshan Devarajan, Neeru Bhatia, Manish Badavia and Alok Sinha.
Applications were received for the Arjuna Award this time. The total number of applicants is 33, of which 22 are Olympic sports. 107 are from athletics alone, 87 from hockey and 55 from cricket. The lockdown also led to an increase in the number of people who were allowed to apply online on their own, along with the federations’ recommendation.