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No Khel Ratna this year, 15 named for Arjuna Awards

PTI 21 Aug 2014, 22:51:19 PM IST
New Delhi: No sportsperson has been named for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna while 15, including cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin, were today recommended for the Arjuna Award this year. The awardees will receive their awards from the President of India at a specially organized function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29, 2014.

The 12-member selection committee, headed by legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, decided not to name any sportsperson out of the seven candidates for the Khel Ratna at a meeting here.

This is the third time no sportsperson has been named for the Khel Ratna since the inception of the country's highest sporting award in 1991.

Besides Ashwin, the other 14 recommended for the Arjuna Award were Akhilesh Varma (archery), Tintu Luka (athletics), H N Girisha (paralympics), V Diju (badminton), Geetu Ann Jose (basketball), Jai Bhagwan (boxing), Anirban Lahiri (golf), Mamta Pujari (kabaddi), Saji Thomas (rowing), Heena Sidhu (shooting), Anaka Alankamony (squash), Tom Joseph (volleyball), Renubala Chanu (weightlifting) and Sunil Rana (wrestling).

“The selection panel examined the seven names placed before them for the consideration of Khel Ratna but none of them were deserving enough to get the nod,” a selection panel member told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

“We discussed each and every seven names for the Khel Ratna Award. The longest discussion was in case of on golfer Jeev Milkha Singh after Kapil mentioned his name but ultimately the panel decided against his name,” the member said.

It is also learnt that Somdev Devvarman's 2011 Arjuna Award went against him while considering his name for the Khel Ratna as some panel members felt that he has not achieved much success after that year.

The selection panel members for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award included the likes of Anju Bobby George and Kunjarani Devi, both  of the highest sporting honour themselves, two mediapersons and three from the government side, including Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson.