London Olympic Games medallists, shooter Vijay Kumar and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, have been nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for this year.
A member of the selection committee told HT that outstanding performance at the Games was the main criteria for selecting the duo for the prestigious award. Double-trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi too was in contention but his poor run in the Olympic Games overshadowed his past performance.
Sodhi sounded a bit upset after he was not nominated for the Khel Ratna. "There are several world-level competitions this year…it will be a good platform to prove myself again," was all he said.
Even retired cricketer Rahul Dravid's name was not considered for the award, which carries a cash prize of Rs. 7.5 lakh. Sports ministry sources said that preference had been given to players who had given a good account of themselves at the Olympics. The other London Games medallists, Sushil Kumar (wrestling), Mary Kom (boxing), Gagan Narang (shooting) and Saina Nehwal (badminton), have already received the prestigious award.
The selection panel, headed by Athens Games silver-medallist RVS Rathore, also recommended 25 sportspersons, including hockey player Sardar Singh and cricketer Yuvraj Singh, for the Arjuna Award.
Commonwealth Games gold-medallist in badminton, Ashwini Ponnappa, and male shuttler, P Kashyap, are also among those nominated for the Arjuna. The names will officially be announced in a couple of days.
Meanwhile, rifle marksman Joydeep Karmakar, who finished fourth in 50m prone at the London Games, was pleasantly surprised to hear that his name had been recommended for the Arjuna Award.