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New Delhi, August 18, 2020
Cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, table tennis player Manika Batra and Paralympian Mariyappan Thangavelu are the sportspersons recommended for the country's highest sports honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
This is only the second time that four players have been recommended for the award. In 2016, shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai and wrestler Sakshi Malik had received this award.
The names were decided after the National Sports Awards selection committee met on Tuesday for deciding the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and other national sports awards.
Sharma will be the fourth cricketer after legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli to be conferred the award. Tendulkar was awarded the Khel Ratna in 1998, Dhoni got it in 2007 and Kohli received it in 2018.
He earned the nomination after a fabulous 2019 with the bat. He had his best year in terms of statistics across formats especially in ODIs. He finished the year as the highest run-scorer in the 50-over format, scoring a staggering 1,490 runs in ODIs including seven hundreds – the most by any player in the calendar year.
Vinesh has been rewarded for her gold medals in the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games besides a bronze in the 2019 Asian Wrestling Championships.
Manika won two golds at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and subsequently won bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. She, however, is yet to seal qualification to the Tokyo Olympics after losing in the quarter-finals of the 2020 Qualifiers in January.
Thangavelu got the recognition for his gold medal in the 2016 Rio Paralympics in the T42 high jump category.
In a first, this year’s National Sports Awards ceremony will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all the winners logging in from their respective places to hear their names being announced on August 29.
The National Sports Awards include the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award and the Dhyan Chand Award, which are conferred every year by the President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 29.
The National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.
On the first day of the meeting on Monday, 13 and 15 candidates were recommended for the Dronacharya and Dhayan Chand Award, respectively.