Indian opening batsman Rohit Sharma and wrestler Vinesh Phogat are among the four sportspersons who have been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award — India’s highest sporting honour. Apart from Rohit and Vinesh, table tennis player Manika Batra and Paralympian M Thangavelu are the other two names.
Rohit Sharma will be the fourth cricketer after legendary Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to be conferred the award. Tendulkar was awarded the Khel Ratna in 1998, Dhoni got it in 2007 and Kohli received in 2018.
Rohit earned the nomination after a fabulous 2019 with the bat. He had his best year in terms of statistics across formats especially in ODIs. He finished the year as the highest run-scorer in the 50-over format, scoring a staggering 1,490 runs in ODIs including seven hundreds – the most by any player in the calendar year.
The names were decided after the National Sports Awards selection committee met on Tuesday for deciding the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and other national sports awards. This is only the second time that the names of 4 athletes have been recommended for the award. In 2016, shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik had received this award.
In a first, this year’s National Sports Awards ceremony is likely to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all the winners logging in from their respective places to hear their names being announced on August 29.
The National Sports Awards include the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award and the Dhyan Chand Award, which are conferred every year by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29. The National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.
On the first day of the meeting on Monday, 13 and 15 candidates were recommended for the Dronacharya and Dhayan Chand Award respectively.