After a long wait, ace rifle shooter Gagan Narang is set to bag the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. The Hyderabadi, who has been the most consistent marksman for some time, was recommended for the honour by the awards committee, which met here on Friday.
The 28-year-old, who has won a quota place for the 2012 London Olympics, was elated to hear the news. "It has come at a time when I am gearing up for the 2012 Olympics. It will help me push harder," Gagan told HT from his training base in Pune.
"Every award is very dear and a huge motivation," he said. "This helps to wipe out the memories of last two years. I am thankful to those who kept an eye on my last year's performance.
Eying london glory
"It was an excellent year for me. I hope to show my gratitude to everyone who supported me by winning a medal at the Olympics next year."
Narang, who has at one time thought about quitting the game for not being selected for the country's top honour, was the first Indian shooter to qualify for the Olympics with a bronze at the World Championships last year.
The committee also finalised the list for the Arjuna and Dronacharya Awards, and it has been sent to the sports ministry for approval.
India pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is among those picked for the Arjuna Award. The 32-year-old fast bowler, who is currently in England for the Test series, has taken 271 Test wickets at an average of 31.94. He also has 273 ODI wickets at 28.84.
Other names include India football captain, Sunil Chettri, rising tennis star, Somdev Devvarman, and badminton player, Jwala Gutta. Somdev had won gold at both the Commonwealth as well as the Asian Games.