MC Marykom is set to get the Khel Ratna while the selection committee that met to finalise the list here on Monday recommended Gautam Gambhir as one of the 15 recipients of the Arjuna awards for the year 2008. Five coaches have been chosen for the Dronacharya.
Long overdue, Marykom, four-time world champion in women’s boxing, was the first choice for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for the committee headed by former paddler Indu Puri. The committee has also recommended the names of Beijing Olympic bronze medallists Vijender (boxing) and Sushil Kumar (wrestling) to the Sports Ministry for the Khel Ratna because of the “extraordinary” circumstances.
Shahbad, the town famous for producing international women hockey players, is also set to get its first Arjuna with Surinder Kaur being chosen for the honour. Surinder, the women’s hockey team captain, would be overjoyed as her coach Baldev Singh too figures in the list. Speaking to HT, Singh said: “I came to know about the awards a little while back. But more than myself, I am happy for Surinder.”
Surinder and Singh are not the only coach-pupil pair to have been chosen for the prestigious awards. The selection committee also chose former All England champion Pullela Gopichand and his understudy Saina Nehwal for the Dronacharya and Arjuna Awards respectively, while there was double delight for wrestling coach Satpal and his pupil Yogeshwar Dutt too.
Beijing Olympic quarterfinalist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who recently went under the knife in South Africa to repair a ligament tear, had won bronze at the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
Gambhir is the only cricketer chosen for the Arjuna although the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had recommended more than one name. Double-trap marksman Ronjan Sodhi, riding on his outstanding performance in the World Cups last year where he won gold in Belgrade with a record-equalling score, too was chosen for the Arjuna.