'This award is an added responsibility for me to continue performing well and I am looking forward to bring more laurels for the country.'
Table tennis player Manika Batra, who will be conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award this year, said that the accolade would spur her to bring more laurels for the country.
The five Khel Ratna winners for this year are star cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Paralympic gold medal-winner Mariyappan Thangavelu, TT player Batra, and women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal.
"It is an honour for me to be named as one of the receipents for this year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. I would like to thank god, Sports Ministry, all my sponsors and the Sports Authority of India," Batra said on Saturday.
"This award is an added responsibility for me to continue performing well and I am looking forward to bring more laurels for the country," she added.
Sprinter Dutee Chand, cricketer Ishant Sharma, and shooter Manu Bhaker are among the 27 athletes who will be conferred with the Arjuna Award.
National Sports Awards which include the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the Arjuna award, the Dronacharya award, and the Dhyan Chand award, are conferred on athletes every year by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29 -- the National Sports Day.
In a first, the awards will be held virtually instead of the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The criteria for the awards takes into consideration the athletes' performances over a four-year period.
A weightage of 80 per cent is given to athletes winning medals at various international competitions with the remaining 20 per cent left to the discretion of the panel members.
Paddler Batra's recommendation for the Khel Ratna raised doubts as she has not won anything of note since the Arjuna award on the back of her exploits at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
During this period, her world ranking has slipped to 63, but the ministry decided against rejecting her recommendation.