Vinesh Phogat, Manika Batra recommended for India’s highest sporting honour

Duo among those for nominated for Khel Ratna award, while sports ministry also recommend 29 athletes for the Arjuna Award.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Top Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat and star table tennis player Manika Batra’s have been recommended by the sports ministry for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour.

The 12-member selection committee of the sports ministry – including former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag and hockey captain Sardar Singh - also recommended cricketer Rohit Sharma and para high-jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu for Khel Ratna.

This is only the second time that four athletes have been recommended for the top sporting accolade. In 2016, shuttler PV Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik were awarded the Khel Ratna.

Vinesh Phogat and Manika Batra recognised after breakout years in 2018

The only women wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Games, Vinesh Phogat’s name was nominated by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) in June, while Manika Batara was nominated by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).

Wrestling in the 53kg weight category, Olympian Vinesh Phogat is one of India’s most successful wrestlers in recent years, winning the 2018 Asian Games gold medal and the 2020 Asian Championships bronze medal.

Manika Batra has been the poster girl of Indian table tennis since her career-defining 2018 season.

The Delhi girl is India’s first woman table tennis player to win a singles as well as team event gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before she clinched the historic mixed doubles bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

 Manika Batra is first woman paddler to win singles as well as team event gold medals at the Commonwealth Games 

Para athlete Thangavelu was recommended for his gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics in the T42 high jump category.

Atanu and Sharan chosen for Arjuna Award

Apart from the Khel Ratna nominees, the ministry has also released a long list for the Arjuna Award. The 29-member list includes archer Atanu Das and tennis player Divij Sharan.

India’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal, Sakshi Malik, and former world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were nominated for the Arjuna Award as well, by their national federations.

However, since Sakshi and Mirabai have already won the Khel Ratna Award, the final decision to consider them for the Arjuna will be taken by sports minister Kiren Rijiju.

Former world champion weightlifter and Khel Ratna awardee Mirabai Chanu is also nominated for the Arjuna Award

List of award recommendations:

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Rohit Sharma (cricket), Vinesh Phogat (wrestling), Manika Batra (table tennis), Rani Rampal (hockey), Mariyappan Thangavelu (Para High Jumper).

Arjuna Award: Ishant Sharma (cricket), Atanu Das (archery), Deepak Hooda (kabaddi), Deepika Thakur (hockey), Divij Sharan (tennis), Mirabai Chanu (weightlifting), Sakshi Malik (wrestling), Akashdeep Singh (hockey), Lovlina Borgohain (boxing), Manu Bhaker (shooting), Saurabh Chaudhary (shooting), Manish Kaushik (boxing), Sandesh Jhinghan (football), Dattu Bhokanal (rowing), Rahul Aware (wrestling), Dutee Chand (athletics), Deepti Sharma (cricket), Shiva Keshavan (winter sports), Madhurika Patkar (table tennis), Manish Narwal (para shooter), Sandeep Chaudhary (parathlete), Suyash Jadhav (para swimmer), Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (badminton), Vishesh Bharguvanshi (basketball), Ajay Sawant (tent pegging), Aditi Ashok (golf), Sarika Kale (kho kho), Divya Kakran (wrestling).

Dronacharya Award (Lifetime category): Dharmendra Tiwari (archery), Purshottam Rai (athletics), Shiv Singh (boxing), Romesh Pathania (hockey), K K Hooda (kabaddi), Vijay Munishwar (para powerlifting), Naresh Kumar (tennis), OP Dahiya (wrestling).

Dronacharya Award (Regular category): Yogesh Malviya (mallakhamb), Gaurav Khanna (para badminton), Jaspal Rana (shooting), Kuldeep Handoo (wushu) and Jude Felix (hockey).

Dhyan Chand Award: Jincy Philips (athletics), Kuldeep Singh Bhullar (athletics), Trupti Murgunde (badminton), Pradeep Gandhe (badminton), N Usha (boxing), Lakha Singh (boxing), Sukhwinder Singh Sandhu (football), Ajeet Singh (hockey), Manpreet Singh (kabaddi),  Satyaprakash Tiwari (para badminton) Manjeet Singh (rowing), Late Sachin Nag (swimming), Nandan Bal (tennis), Netar Pal Hooda (wrestling) and J Ranjit Kumar (para athletics).