Speculation is rife that gymnast Dipa Karmakar is to be recommended for the Rajiv Khel Ratna Award after her encouraging performance in the Rio Olympics, although the deadline for sending in the recommendation to the Sports Ministry was over.
The 23-year-old Tripura-born gymnast became an overnight sensation after she finished fourth in the women’s vault final on August 14, missing the bronze by a mere 0.150 points.
Officials of the Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India, however, did not confirm whether Dipa has already been recommended for the highest sports honour or not.
Dipa’s coach Biseshwar Nandi said he has also no clue in this regard.
“I am hearing this (Dipa being recommended for Khel Ratna) for the first time. I have no clue,” Nandi told PTI in Rio.
It is also not clear who has recommended her name for the Khel Ratna award.
State governments, the Indian Olympic Association, the concerned National Sports Federation (NSF), previous Khel Ratna awardees and director general of Sports Authority of India can recommend names for Khel Ratna.
The Sports Ministry too has the discretionary power to do so.
SAI’s director general Injeti Srinivas could not be reached as he is on his way back from Rio where he had gone to watch Indian athletes’ performance.
To add to the confusion, there is no recognised NSF in case of gymnastics due to two warring factions.
The deadline for submission of applications was April 29 but the Sports Ministry can recommend any sportsperson for the prestigious award even after the end of the deadline for submission of the names of candidates.
Belonging to a humble family in Agartala, Dipa made her way through the top level of her sport with little support and non-existent training facilities that made her Olympic performance all the more commendable.
Reports also said Dipa’s coach, Biseshwar Nandi, has been recommended for the Dronacharya Award and he is likely to get the nod after his ward’s sensational performance in Rio.
“Nandi’s application was sent to the ministry before the deadline ended and before the commencement of the Olympic Games. After Dipa’s Olympics performance, he should get the award,” an informed source said.