Beijing Olympic Games gold-medallist in 10m air rifle, Abhinav Bindra, was on Monday recommended for the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
NRAI president, Raninder Singh, said the decision to recommend Bindra's name was taken at a meeting of top federation officials, adding that it was but natural "we recommended his name" after the government revised the norms for the top honour recently.
Senior NRAI official, Baljit Singh Sethi, said a communication had been sent to the sports minister, Ajay Maken, in this regard.
Soon after Bindra was crowned Olympic champion in 2008, the NRAI had urged the government to consider him for Bharat Ratna, but eligibility rules weren't in favour of sportspersons then.
However, with the government modifying the rules to pave the way for sportspersons to get the prestigious award, the NRAI immediately sent a letter to the ministry. "The award will further encourage the Indian contingent to achieve greater heights at the London Games next year," said Sethi.
Bindra had made his maiden appearance at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, where he finished 11th. At the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he gave an outstanding account in the preliminary round, but had to be content with seventh spot in the finals. He, however, hit bullseye eye at the Beijing Games.
He was also crowned champion in the Zagreb edition of the World Championships in 2006.
Bindra was bestowed with the Arjuna Award in 2000 and the following year was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest award in the field of sports. Ever since the government amended the Bharat Ratna eligibility criteria, the names of sporting luminaries - past and present - including Sachin Tendulkar and the late Dhyan Chand have cropped up.