Asian Games 2018 gold medallist Bajrang Punia to talk to sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore about Khel Ratna snub

New Delhi: Miffed at being ignored for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, star wrestler Bajrang Punia on Thursday threatened to take the legal action against the government for not considering him for the country's highest sporting honour.

Bajrang was nominated for the Khel Ratna by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) following his twin gold medals at this year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games.

Wrestler Bajrang Punia shows off his Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta. PTI

Wrestler Bajrang Punia shows off his Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta. PTI

But the government jointly bestowed the honour to India cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (48kg).

The decision didn't go down well with Bajrang, who also won a bronze medal in 2013 World Championships, and the wrestler is scheduled to meet Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Friday to plead his case.

"I'm really disappointed and shocked. I'm meeting Sports Minister tomorrow after (mentor) Yogi bhai (Yogeshwar Dutt) spoke to him and arranged the meeting. I just want to know why I was being ignored. I want to know the reason," Bajrang told reporters.

"It's in his hands now. I want to know whether I am deserving or not. If I deserve then only give me the award."

Asked if he will go to the court if he fails to convince the Sports Minister, Bajrang said: "It would be the last option. I feel I deserve the award this year and that's why I have applied for it.

"It doesn't feel good to beg for an award, but it is the biggest honour for any sportsperson and a wrestler's career is very uncertain. Anytime an injury can end your career."

Bajrang feels he deserves the recognition for his consistent performances over the last few years.

"I had never imagined I won't get it this year. Look at my performance in the last 4 years. There was no point system earlier but with the point system in place now I feel I have the numbers behind me," he said.

Bajrang said the Khel Ratna snub had taken a toll in his preparations for the World Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary from 20 to 28 October.

"This decision has hit my World Championship preparations. It was a big jolt to me. These are difficult times for me. I hope I don't have to approach the court and concentrate on my preparation," he said.

Insisting that he has support from all quarters, Bajrang said he will not involve the WFI in this matter.

"I didn't talk to the federation about this matter. They have forwarded my name, that means they are with me. But this is my personal fight," he signed off.

In a departure from tradition, the National Sports Awards this year will be given away on 25 September instead of 29 August because of the clash of dates with the Asian Games that concluded earlier this month.


Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 19:14 PM

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