Manavjit Singh Sandhu, India's world champion trap shooter, is all set to receive the country's highest sporting award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, from President Pratibha Patil on National Sports Day, August 29.
The 14-member selection panel for the national sports awards, which met here on Wednesday, decided on Sandhu ahead of others including Rahul Dravid and top golfer Jeev Milkha Singh. The list will have to be ratified by the Sports Ministry before it is formally announced.
The panel, headed by Kapil Dev, also selected 14 sportspersons for the Arjuna Awards, but a poor year for Indian cricket (the awards are for 2006) meant that, for the second year running, no male cricketer would get it.
Rajiv Gandhi KhelRatna: Manavjit Singh Sandhu
Arjuna Awards:JayantaTalukdar (archery), KM Beenu (athletes), ChetanAnand (badminton), Vijender (boxing), Anjum Chopra (cricket), JyotiKullu (hockey), Navneet Gautam (Kabaddi), Vijay Kumar (golf), Saurav Ghoshal (squash), Subhajit Saha (TT), Geeta Rani (weightlifting), Geetika Jhakar (wrestling), P Harikrishna (chess) Rohit Bhakkar (athlete, disabled category)
Dhyanchand: Virender Singh (hockey), Rajinder Singh (athletics)
Dronacharaya: RD Singh (athletics, disabled), B. Chandra Lal (boxing), Koneru Ashok (chess)
Sources said Kapil apparently felt Dravid did not have "that much potential" (for Khel Ratna), while Yuvraj Singh, nominated for the Arjuna, "was not in the (Test) team at the moment".
Women’s cricket though, was represented by former India women's skipper Anjum Chopra. Other women awardees include former India women's hockey captain Jyoti Kullu, Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gita Rani (weightlifting) and Asian Games silver medallist Geetika Jhakar (wrestling).
Former world No 1 archer in the men's recurve Jayanta Talukdar is also in the list, as are squash champ Saurav Ghosal, national badminton champion Chetan Anand and India’s No 2 paddler Subhajit Saha, who was part of the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-winning team.
Two other selections are boxer Vijender and young Grandmaster P Harikrishna and a blast from the past in India's most famous caddy-turned golf pro, Vijay Kumar. Other winners are 2002 Asiad 800m silver-medal athlete KM Beenu, Navneet Gautam (part of the Doha Asiad gold medal winning kabaddi team) and Rohit Bakhar (in the disabled category).