World Championship bronze medallist Vinesh Phogat is set to be nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the second year in a row while Rio Olympic bronze winner Sakshi Malik wants to be in contention for the Arjuna Award, although she is already a recipient of the country’s highest sporting honour.
Vinesh, who is the only woman wrestler to have qualified for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, had missed out on the honour last year with fellow wrestler Bajrang Punia getting the prestigious award.
After winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Vinesh qualified for the Tokyo Games by winning a bronze at the World Championships in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, in 2019. Earlier this year, she won a bronze at the Asian Championships in New Delhi.
“We will send Vinesh’s application on Monday for Khel Ratna. She will be a strong contender. But we have not yet decided on Arjuna Award application because we have received many applications,” WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar told PTI.
A WFI source said Sakshi, who received the Khel Ratna in 2016 along with gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai, has sent her application for the Arjuna Award. Sakshi has been struggling for form lately, having lost twice to young wrestler Sonam Malik, who stopped her from making the cut even for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.
Deepak Punia, Rahul Aware and Sandeep Tomar have also sent their applications for the Arjuna award.
On Saturday, Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra was recommended for the Khel Ratna by the Athletics Federation of India. Chopra won the Arjuna Award in 2018 after winning gold in the javelin throw at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, the BCCI recommended batsman Rohit Sharma for the Khel Ratna. If Rohit wins, he will become only the fourth cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, to do so. The BCCI also nominated opener Shikhar Dhawan, fast bowler Ishant Sharma, and all-rounder Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna Award.
The Khel Ratna award carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
Meanwhile, Dutee Chand, who won two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Games, has already been recommended for the Arjuna Award by the Odisha government.