Vinesh Phogat, Neeraj Chopra lead India’s sporting honours nominations
Ace Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat has been recommended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for the prestigious Khel Ratna Award, the country’s highest sporting honour.
After the nation’s top-ranked women wrestler missed out on the award last year as her compatriot Bajrang Punia won it, the World Championship bronze medallist’s name has been recommended for the second consecutive time.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize.
The only women grappler from the country currently to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Vinesh Phogat has won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and a bronze medal at the Asian Championship earlier this year.
Neeraj Chopra AFI’s sole choice
Neeraj Chopra has been recommended for the Khel Ratna Award as well.
Only 22, the javelin thrower has already been recommended by the national federation for the country's highest sports award three times before.
Neeraj Chopra was conferred the Arjuna Award after his gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. After he followed it up with a gold medal at the Asian Games as well, he was recommended for the Khel Ratna in 2018.
After sitting out most of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, which saw Chopra undergo surgery, the athlete returned to the track with a throw of 87.86m in his very first competition to seal a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
Mirabai Chanu recommended for Arjuna Award
Having already won the Khel Ratna Award and the Padma Shri Award previously, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) has now recommended Mirabai Chanu for the Arjuna Award.
“I know Khel Ratna is the highest but I missed out on the Arjuna Award earlier and I want it too. Sometimes you want all of it. Players like to get the Arjuna Award,” Mirabai Chanu told the Press Trust of India.
The star weightlifter was conferred with the two awards after her gold medal at the 2017 Weightlifting World Championship in the USA.
Apart from her, the national federation has also recommended names of Ragala Venkat Rahul and Punam Yadav for the Arjuna Award.
Ragala Venkat Rahul has been making waves on the junior circuit, where the 23-year-old has won numerous medals including two Commonwealth Championships and a Commonwealth Games gold.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games also saw Punam Yadav in the spotlight with her gold medal.
In tennis, Ankita Raina and Divij Sharan have been recommended by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for the Arjuna Award.
One of India’s probable tennis representatives at the Tokyo Olympics, 34-year-old Divij Sharan won the gold medal in the men’s doubles at the 2018 Asian Games and followed that up with two ATP titles the following year.
Ankita Raina, on the hand, has been the country’s recent sensation in tennis with her impressive display at the Fed Cup, where the Indian team reached the World Group play-offs for the first time in history. She is also a bronze medallist at the 2018 Asian Games.
These athletes will join a list of Indian shooters, including Anjum Moudgil and Manu Bhaker, who were nominated for various awards last month.