Vinesh to get Khel Ratna.

NEW DELHI: Rani, Manika, Rohit also in list; 29 recommended for Arjuna Award

The Arjuna Award selection committee has recommended five names for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. The committee, led by Justice (retd) Mukundakam Sharma, has recommended the names of India cricketer Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, paddler Manika Batra and Paralympian Mariyapan Thangavelu for India topmost award. Women hockey team captain Rani Rampal s name too has been added but the decision to include her has been left on the discretion of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

This would be the first time when so many athletes will be conferred with the Khel Ratna in a non-Olympics year. The list has surpassed four winners — PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Jitu Rai and Deepa Karmakar — who were given the award after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Strangely, the committee members were not informed of 2016 Paralympics gold medallist Mariyapan s pending court case, in which he is accused of murdering a youth in 2017.

The committee followed the same script when recommending the Arjuna Award. In all, 29 names have been sent for the Sports Minister approval. For the record, the committee wanted to keep the Arjuna Award down to 20. But with the number of applications — 215 — being high and on the insistence of a few members to push names from their disciplines, the committee settled on 27 names.

The inclusion of wrestler Sakhi Malik and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu — who received the Khel Ratna in 2016 and 2018, respectively — has been left on the sole discretion of the sports minister.

Indian pace bowler Ishant Sharma, shooting stars Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary, boxers Manish Kaushik and Lovlina Borgohain headline the Arjuna Award. Shiva Keshavan, who participated in the luge event in six consecutive Winter Games from 1998 to 2018, too found favours with the committee.

Vinesh Phogat

The 25-year-old from Bhiwani, Haryana, broke on to the international scene with gold at the CWG and bronze at the Asian Games in 2014. At the 2016 Olympics, she suffered a serious knee injury during her quarterfinal match. But she bounced back in 2018, winning her second gold at the CWG and becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at the Asian Games. In 2019, she emulated cousins Geeta and Babita in winning bronze at the World Championships.

Rani Rampal

A trainee of Haryana  famous Shahabad academy, Rani first showcased her striking skills as a 15-year-old in the 2010 World Cup. She scored seven goals to finish as India top-scorer and the tournament s second-best. She was named the best player in the 2013 Junior World Cup, where India won bronze. After helping India qualify for the 2016 Olympics after a gap of 36 years, she was also instrumental in India silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

Khel Ratna

Vinesh Phogat (wrestling), Rohit Sharma (cricket), Manika Batra (table tennis), Mariyapan Thangavelu (Paralympics), Rani Rampal (hockey)

Arjuna Award

Atanu Das (archery), Shiva Keshavan (luge), Dutee Chand (athletics), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (badminton), Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (basketball), Manish Kaushik and Lovlina Borgohain (boxing), Ishant Sharma and Deepti Sharma (cricket), Ajay Sawant (tent pegging), Sandesh Jhingan (football), Aditi Ashok (golf), Akashdeep Singh and Deepika Kumari (hockey), Deepak Hooda (kabaddi), Kale Sarika (kho kho), Dattu Bhokanal (rowing), Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary (shooting), Madhurika Patkar (table tennis), Divij Sharan (Tennis), Divya Kakran, Rahul Aware and Sakshi Malik (wrestling), Mirabai Chanu (weightlifting), Suyesh Jadhav (para-athletics), Sandeep (para-athletic