New Delhi: Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medal winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been recommended by the Athletics Federation of India for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, country’s highest sporting honour.
Neeraj captured the attention of athletics fans around the world when he won the crown in the World Junior Athletics Championships in 2016.
“We are sure that Neeraj will get the nod this time around after he missed out on being picked for the award when weightlifter Mirabai Chanu edged him out in 2018 and wrestler Bajrang Punia was chosen ahead of him last year,” AFI President Adille J Sumariwalla said in a statement.
“The immensely popular athlete deserves the award for his performances ahead of the 2021 Olympics and it will motivate him to do even better.”
For the Arjuna Award, the AFI panel chaired by Anju Bobby George has nominated 2018 Asian Games gold medallists, triple jumper Arpinder Singh and middle-distance specialist Manjit Singh as well as sprinter Dutee Chand, who won two Asian Games silver medals, and middle-distance runner PU Chitra who won gold medals in successive Asian Athletics Championships in 2017 and 2019 besides an Asian Games bronze.
Deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair, the only Indian to complete International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program by the International Olympic Committee with honours, has been nominated for the Dronacharya Award. “Radhakrishnan has selflessly hand-held many athletes and coaches over the past few years,” he said.
Kuldip Singh Bhullar, who won the discus throw silver medal in the 1982 Asian Games here, and sprinter Jincy Philip, who finished fourth in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, have been nominated for the Dhyan Chand Award.