No Khel Ratna this year; 15 named for Arjuna award
No sportsperson has been named for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna while 15, including cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin, were recommended for the Arjuna Award this year.
The 12-member selection committee, headed by legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, decided not to name any sportsperson out of the seven candidates for the Khel Ratna at a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.
This is the third time no sportsperson was named for the Khel Ratna since the inception of the country's highest sporting award in 1991.
Besides Ashwin, the other 14 recommended for the Arjuna award are Akhilesh Varma (archery), Tintu Luka (athletics), H N Girisha (paralympics), V Diju (badminton), Geetu Ann Jose (basketball), Jai Bhagwan (boxing), Anirban Lahiri (golf), Mamta Pujari (kabaddi), Saji Thomas (rowing), Heena Sidhu (shooting), Anaka Alankamony (squash), Tom Joseph (volleyball), Renubala Chanu (weightlifting) and Sunil Rana (wrestling).
"The selection panel examined the seven names placed before them for the consideration of Khel Ratna but none of them were deserving enough to get the nod," a selection panel member said on condition of anonymity.
"We discussed each and every of the seven names for the Khel Ratna award. The longest discussion was in the case of golfer Jeev Milkha Singh after Kapil mentioned his name but ultimately the panel decided against his name," the member said.
It is also learnt that Somdev Devvarman's 2011 Arjuna award went against him while considering him for the Khel Ratna as some panel members felt that he hasn’t achieved much success after that year.
The selection panel members for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna included the likes of Anju Bobby George and Kunjarani Devi, both of the highest sporting honour themselves, two mediapersons and three from the government side, including Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson.
Image: India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is among 15 sportspersons named for the Arjuna award this year
Photographs: Getty Images