Rio Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik was on Saturday nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country's highest sporting honour, joining Asian and Commonwealth Games champion wrestler Bajrang Punia. (Sports News)
The name of 48-year-old Deepa, who won a silver in the shot put F53 category in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, was added for the Khel Ratna by a 12-member selection committee on the second day of the two-day meeting here.
World No. 1 wrestler in 65kg, Punia was nominated for the prestigious award on Friday, by the panel headed by Justice (Retd) Mukundakam Sharma.
Six-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist boxer M C Mary Kom recused herself from the meeting to avoid conflict of interest as her personal coach Chhotelal Yadav was in contention for the Dronacharya Award. She attended the selection panel meeting, which nominated Bajrang for the Khel Ratna, but skipped the whole of second day's proceedings.
Deepa became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics when she bagged a silver in the shot put F53 category (for para-athletes who make seated throws and have full muscle power at their shoulder, elbow and wrist in the throwing arm) at 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
She became paraplegic when a spinal tumour made walking impossible for her 17 years ago. She was previously honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2012 and Padma Shri in 2017.
Last year, she shifted to javelin and discus throw and created a new Asian record in Jakarta, becoming the only Indian woman to win medals in three consecutive Asian Para Games (2010, 2014, 2018). She won a bronze each in the discus throw (F51-52-53) and javelin throw (F53-54) in the 2018 Asian Para Games.
The Khel Ratna is given for the most spectacular and outstanding performance by a sportsperson over a period of four years immediately preceding the year during which award is to be given. The awardee is given a medal, a certificate, ceremonial dress and cash prize of Rs 7.50 lakh.
The committee also picked 19 sportspersons for the Arjuna Award, including the likes of cricketers Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav, track and field stars Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, Mohammed Anas and Swapna Barman, footballer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, hockey player Chinglensana Kangujam and shooter Anjum Moudgil.
Jadeja has been an integral part of India's Test and ODI teams in the past few years. He is one of the key members of the Indian team that rose to world number one in Tests.
Poonam has been a part of the Indian team that reached the final of the World Cup final in 2017 and the semifinal of the Women's T20 World Cup last year.
Shot putter Toor and heptathlete Barman had won a gold each in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta while Anas had claimed three silver in the same Games. Chinglensana was a part of the bronze-winning team in the 2018 Asian Games while Moudgil has been one of the most consistent shooters of the country, having secured a Tokyo Olympics quote in women's 10m air rifle event.
As per guidelines, to be eligible for the Arjuna award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous four years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline.
The panel also nominated three names for the Dronacharya Award, including former badminton star Vimal Kumar, and three for the Dronacharya Award (lifetime caregory), including 2011 World Cup winning cricketer Gautam Gambhir's childhood coach Sanjay Bhardwaj.
Five persons were also nominated for the Dhyan Chand Award.
Dronacharya Awards are given to honour eminent coaches who have successfully trained sportspersons or teams and enabled them to achieve outstanding results in international competitions. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
Dhyan Chand Award is given to honour those sportspersons who have contributed through their performance and continue to promote sports even after their retirement. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
The Awards will be bestowed by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the occasion of National Sports Day, which commemorates the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand.
List of Sportspersons nominated for various awards.
Khel Ratna: Bajrang Punia (wrestling), Deepa Malik (para-athletics)
Arjuna Award: Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (athletics), Mohammed Anas Yahiya (athletics), S Bhaskaran (body building), Sonia Lather (boxing), Ravindra Jadeja (cricket), Chinglensana Kangujam (hockey), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi), Gaurav Singh Gill (motor sports), Pramod Bhagat (para sports-badminton), Anjum Moudgil (shooting), Harmeet Rajul Desai (table tennis), Pooja Dhanda (wrestling), Fouaad Mirza (equestrian), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (football), Poonam Yadav (cricket), Swapna Burman (athletics), Sundar Singh Gurjar (para sports-athletics), Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth (badminton), Simran Singh Shergill (polo).
Dronacharya Award (regular category): Vimal Kumar (badminton), Sandeep Gupta (table tennis), Mohinder Singh Dhillon (athletics)
Dronacharya Award (lifetime category): Mezban Patel (hockey), Rambir Singh Khokar (kabaddi), Sanjay Bhardwaj (cricket).
Dhyan Chand Award: Manuel Fredricks (hockey), Arup Basak (table tennis), Manoj Kumar (wrestling), Nitten Kirrtane (tennis), C Lalremsanga (archery).
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