The sports ministry is in a fix over whether to award the highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — to para-athlete, long jumper, HN Girisha, who bagged silver in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
As per convention, the athlete should be an Arjuna Award recipient before he can be conferred the highest sporting honour. But Girisha has applied for the top award without having been conferred the Arjuna, thus putting the ministry in a fix.
Girisha had won the medal last year after August 29, the day the President confers the awards to meritorious athletes on National Sports Day, so his performance could not be considered. Had he won the medal before August 29, 2012 the ministry could have made an exception and conferred the Arjuna on him last year and the Khel Ratna this year.
The ministry is now contemplating giving the Arjuna to Girisha this year and the Khel Ratna next year.
Not that the ministry has not made exceptions in the past. Shooter Vijay Kumar and grappler Yogeshwar Dutt received the Khel Ratna last year without applying for it, as the then sports minister, Ajay Maken, immediately recognised their medal-winning performances at the 2012 London Olympics.
The minister could make an exception only because the duo had won the medals before August 29. 2012 and they had also been conferred the Arjuna awards in previous years.
A one-time exception, though, has been made for India cricket team skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who received the Khel Ratna without being getting the Arjuna.
“The criterion for Khel Ratna is the performance of the last one year, so on the basis of that, I have applied for it,” said Girisha, who got Padma Shri this year in January.