New Delhi: Country's leading squash player Harinder Pal Sandhu, the 2014 Asian Games team gold medallist, has been left dejected after being ignored by the Arjuna awards selection panel for the third time.
"I was pretty confident that I would be chosen for the honour this time. It is deeply disappointing when you are not picked despite being a deserving candidate," Sandhu told PTI from Chennai.
The 28-year-old is left with no other option than to apply for the award next year with the sports ministry confirming the recipients list on Saturday.
Sandhu, a winner of nine titles on the pro tour PSA, had played a big role in India winning its maiden squash gold at the Asian Games. He teamed up with Saurav Ghosal to beat a fancied Malaysia in the gold medal match in Incheon.
Ghosal, who has been India's number one male squash player for a long time, has also come out in support of Sandhu saying he was a lot more deserving for the Arjuna than someone like an Anaka Alankamony, who controversially received the honour in 2014.
"If benchmarks used for Harry (Sandhu) and Anaka were the same, then Harry should have got the award ahead of her. There is no doubt about that. Harry has also won a national title while Anaka never won one," said Ghosal, who lost to Sandhu in the 2015 Nationals before regaining the title the following year.
The famous Indian squash trio of Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal have all been rewarded with an Arjuna.
However, Sandhu is yet to win an individual medal at the Asian or Commonwealth level and it might have affected his chances. He, though, has always been an important member in team events.
Sandhu is disheartened with the snub but remains determined to make a stronger case for Arjuna next year.
"We have the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year and will try to win a medal in both the events. I am sure, after I win medals there, it will become more difficult for the committee to ignore me," said the world number 65, who recently won a couple of PSA 5K titles in Australia, taking his overall tally to nine.
Sandhu will compete for his second singles national title at the 74th senior national championship, scheduled to be held in Greater Noida from next week.
Updated Date: Aug 20, 2017 17:29 PM