National Sports Awards 2020: From Neeraj Chopra to Manika Batra, all the sports stars nominated for Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award
Here's a list of athletes who have been nominated so far for National Sports Awards in the Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award categories
The annual Sports Awards ceremony, which takes place on 29 August every year, is an occasion to celebrate and reward the best athletes and coaches of the nation every year. 29 August has been picked as the date for giving away the rewards as it's the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand and is also celebrated as the National Sports Day. The event takes place at Rashtrapati Bhawan with the president honouring the recipients.
The nominations for 2020 Sports Awards are currently open. Generally, the nominations are concluded by the last week of April every year but this year due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown, the process only began on 5 May and the deadline is set for 22 June by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. During the nomination window, Indian Olympic Association, national sports federations, Sports Authority of India and the Board of Control for Cricket in India submit nominations of individuals.
The National Sports Day will witness the president giving away Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (India's highest sporting honour), Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award, Dhyan Chand Award, Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy.
The Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards are given to professional athletes for outstanding performance in their respective fields at international level over the previous four years (January 2016 to December 2019). The Dronacharya Award is given to coaches, the Dhyan Chand Award is the lifetime achievement sporting honour, Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar is given to bodies working towards development of sports in India, Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award recognises the achievement of persons associated in the field of adventure while the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy is awarded to the overall top performing university in the Inter-University tournaments.
Several sports federations have already sent in their nominations for the upcoming ceremony. Here's a list of athletes from different sports who have been nominated so far with their achievements in last four years:
Khel Ratna Award nominees:
Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw): The popular javelin thrower is the athletics federation's pick for the top honour. Only 22, Neeraj has already established himself as one of the Indian greatest hopes for an Olympics medal in track and field, thanks to his world record-setting throw at the 2016 World U20 Championships in Poland. He then became the first Indian to win a gold medal at Commonwealth Games (CWG) as he captured the top prize in the 2018 edition. He went on to win another gold medal on Asian Games debut the same year and has been bettering the national record consistently.
Amit Panghal (Boxing): The 24-year-old feisty boxer from Haryana is Boxing Federation of India's (BFI) choice for the Khel Ratna Award. The boxer has been in prime form having won numerous medals for India at the highest level. Last year, Panghal became the first Indian to win a silver medal (52 kg) at World Boxing Championships. In 2019, he also won the gold medal at Asian Championships after winning the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games. He also has a silver medal from 2018 CWG.
Vikas Krishan (Boxing): A boxing prodigy, Krishan made a name for himself a decade back when he was only 18 as he won a gold medal in lightweight category at the Asian Games in 2010 in China. In 2011, he won a bronze medal at World Championships in the welterweight category before capturing another bronze at 2014 edition of Asian Games in middleweight category. In the qualifying period for this year's award, Krishan won a gold medal at 2018 CWG, thus becoming the first Indian male boxer to win gold medals at Asian Games and CWG. He again won another bronze medal at 2018 Asian Games before turning professional. He returned to the amateur circuit last year and won gold at South Asian Games. He has also won the Arjuna Award in 2012.
Rohit Sharma (Cricket): India men's cricket team vice-captain Rohit is BCCI's pick for Khel Ratna Award. The prolific opener is one of the most feared batsman in the white-ball format. At the ODI World Cup in England in 2019, he smashed five centuries to finish the tournament as the highest run-getter with 648 runs.
Rani Rampal (Hockey): The Indian women's team captain will be one of the favourites for Khel Ratna Award. In the last fours years of consideration, she led India to silver at 2018 Asian Games while her crucial goal in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 gave India the ticket for 2020 Summer Games. India also reached the world number nine rankings under her leadership. Rani won the Arjuna Award in 2016 and this year she was honoured with Padma Shri.
Manika Batra (Table Tennis): The paddler would be a strong candidate for the top honour considering her record-breaking performances in recent years. At 2018 CWG, Batra became the first Indian female player to win a singles gold medal. She also led India to women's team gold apart from winning the silver in doubles and bronze in mixed doubles. In Asian Games the same year, she created history by winning mixed doubles bronze with Sharath Kamal. She is currently the world number 63.
Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling): A star in her sport, Vinesh has been making history for quite some time. She has won numerous medal at the Asian Championships but her biggest win came in 2018 when she captured gold at CWG in 50kg category before going to win the yellow metal at the Asian Games, by doing so she became the first female wrestler from India to do so. She also won the bronze at World Championships at Nur-Sultan in 2019 to qualify for 2020 Olympics.
Hima Das (Athletics): Hima has been nominated for the prestigious Khel Ratna by the Assam government. She enjoyed a stellar 2018 season when she became India's first track athlete to win a global title at U20 World Championship in Tampere, Finland. She then went on to win 400m silver, 4x400 mixed relay gold (upgraded) and women's 4x400m gold at the Jakarta Asian GamBes. Her success in 2018 led to being honoured with the Arjuna Award.
2019 season saw her compete at lower-level events and picking up gold medals. She was invited for the Doha World Championship but a back injury ruled out.
Kidambi Srikanth (Badminton): The Badminton Association of India (BAI) recommended Kidambi Srikanth for the Khel Ratna award. Srikanth has been the top-ranked Indian in Men's badminton for some time now. He had a fairly successful 2018, where he won gold in the mixed team event, and a silver in the singles event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Srikanth briefly achieved the World No 1 ranking after that. However, in 2019, the top shuttler struggled with form and fitness before winning gold in South Asian Games in Nepal later that year.
Arjuna Award nominees
Dutee Chand (Athletics):
A trailblazer off the field, the Odisha athlete has been India's star on the track as well. Her biggest wins have come at 2018 Asian Games, where she won silver in both 100m and 200m races. She also won bronze medals in 100m and 4x100m relay at the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships.
Arpinder Singh (Athletics):
The triple jumper made India proud by capturing the gold medal at 2018 Asian Games. He also has the 2018 IAAF continental Cup bronze and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games gold in his kitty.
Manjit Singh (Athletics): We all very clearly remember Manjit's stunning gold medal win at 2018 Asian Games where he stunned the whole field including compatriot Jinson Johnson to win the top prize for India after a wait of 36 years in 800m. He also set his personal best timing of 1:46:15 on his way to a memorable gold medal.
PU Chitra (Athletics): The middle distance runner won the 1500m bronze at 2018 Asian Games. She has two gold medals from Asian Athletics Championships from 2017 and 2019, and another one from 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. She also won the top prize at 2016 South Asian Games.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy - Chirag Shetty (Badminton): The men's doubles pairing of Satwik and Chirag have established themselves as one of the best men's doubles pairs in the world. They clinched the Thailand Open title win last year and also claimed a historic gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where they also won the men's doubles silver. They were also on the cusp of securing a Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifying spot when the badminton calendar ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sameer Verma (Badminton): Verma had a consistent 2018, winning three titles and ascending to a career-high No 11 in the world. His performances also earned him a place among the best-eight at the BWF World Tour Finals 2018, where he progressed to the semi-finals on debut.
Manish Kaushik (Boxing): The 63kg category boxer has had a fruitful last two years with a silver medal at 2018 CWG and a bronze at maiden World Championships last year which also earned him qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing): The 69kg category boxer has won the bronze medal twice at the World Championships with the last one coming at the 2019 edition. She qualified for the 2020 Olympics at the Asian qualifiers.
Simranjit Kaur (Boxing): The 64kg category boxer's biggest achievement came in 2018 when she won a bronze at 2018 World Championships, she then went on to capture the silver at 2019 Asian Championships. She has also qualified for the Olympics.
Shikhar Dhawan (Cricket): Rohit's partner in crime at the top of order in white-ball cricket, Dhawan has been nominated by BCCI for Arjuna Award. Dhawan is known for scoring tons of runs in ICC events and has so far managed 5,688 runs in 136 ODIs at an average of 4514. He has also scored 2,315 and 1,588 runs in Tests and T20Is respectively.
Ishant Sharma (Cricket): The senior-most pacer in the side, Ishant has been critical behind India's journey to the top of ICC rankings in Tests in recent years. He has featured in 97 Test matches so far and has 297 wickets to his name at an average of 32.39.
Deepti Sharma (Cricket): She is the only women's cricketer to be nominated for Arjuna Award. She was part of the India side which reached finals of ODI and T20I World Cups in last three years. An all-rounder, Deepti has scored 1,417 and 423 runs in ODIs and T20Is respectively while taking 64 and 53 wickets in each formats.
Rashid Khan (Golf): Rashid Khan is India’s top-ranked male golfer at the moment, ranked 10th in Asia and 185th globally. Khan, who helped the Indian team win silver in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, has been ranked the No 1 Indian on the domestic PGTI tour on three different occasions, including the 2019 season.
Aditi Ashok (Golf): Aditi is the only Indian golfer to be currently playing in the Ladies PGA tour in the US, and has three wins to her credit in the Ladies European Tour. She also represented the country in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Diksha Dagar (Golf): Dagar recently won the Women’s South African Open, and looked set to book her ticket for Tokyo before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the organisers to delay the event by a year. She had also won silver in the 2017 Deaflympics.
Vandana Kataria (Hockey): The forward has been part of India's silver winning team from 2018 Asian Games and was also part of the side that won the Asia Cup in 2017. She has over 200 international caps for India.
Monika (Hockey): Another star player of women's team, Monika has made over 150 appearances for the Indian team. She was also part of the silver-winning 2018 Asian Games side and 2017 Asia Cup winning unit.
Harmanpreet Singh (Hockey): The hard-hitting dragflicker has been an integral part of the India men's team for a while. He played a crucial role in India's win in FIH Series Finals in 2019 and led the team to victory in Tokyo 2020 Olympics Test Event in absence of regular captain Manpreet Singh.
Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting): The young pistol shooter is currently ranked No 4 in the world in the ISSF standings. He has had a stellar couple of years, holding both the junior and the senior world record scores in the 10m air pistol event. Besides winning gold at the 2018 Asian Games, Saurabh also clinched the yellow metal at the Youth Olympic Games. The following year, he claimed gold medals at the New Delhi and Rio de Janeiro World Cups, in the process sealing a quota for the Tokyo Olympics.
Abhishek Verma (Shooting): The experienced shooter is currently second in the ISSF rankings for the 10m air pistol event. He won a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning gold at the Beijing World Cup last year. He followed that up with another gold at the Rio World Cup. He also has a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games, which bolsters his claim for the Arjuna.
Manu Bhaker (Shooting): Another young pistol shooter who has made waves in international tournaments for India. Bhaker is currently World No 2 in the women's 10m air pistol standings. Just like Saurabh she snapped up gold at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. She also has gold medals at the Putian World Cup Final and the Asian Shooting Championships in 2019 to her credit.
Elavenil Valarivan (Shooting): The youngster, mentored by Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang, is currently the reigning World No 1 in the 10m air rifle women's rankings, a monumental feat considering the presence of shooters like Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela in the category. This led her to stake claim to the prestigious ISSF Golden Target Award at the end of last year. She won silver at the 2018 Junior World Championship before making the step up to the senior ranks and winning gold at the season-ending World Cup Finals in 2019.
Suthirtha Mukherjee (Table Tennis): She recently broke into the top-100 in the world and was also part of the women's team that won gold at 2018 CWG.
Madhurika Patkar (Table Tennis): She was also part of the women's team that defeated Singapore in 2018 CWG to win the gold medal. She was the national singles champion in 2017.
Manav Thakkar (Table Tennis): One for the future, Thakkar recently got into the history books by becoming the first India player to be ranked world number one in the Under-21 category.
Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting): She has already been awarded the Khel Ratna but in an unusual move, the federation has nominated her for Arjuna Award this year. It was the gold medal win at the 2017 World Championships event in 48kg category that won her the Khel Ratna award. She also set a games record to win gold at 2018 CWG. However, she has been struggling with injuries since then. In 2019, she lifted 86kg in snatch and a personal best of 113kg in clean and jerk for a total of 199kg at the Asian Championships but marginally missed the bronze medal. She breached the much-anticipated 200kg mark at the World Championships last year.
Ragala Venkat Rahul (Weightlifting): Rahul has won several medals at the junior level and two gold medals at Commonwealth Championships but his biggest win came in 2018 when he won the top prize at CWG.
Punam Yadav (Weightlifting): The 24-year-old weightlifter had won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Senior Weightlifting Championships and the gold at 2018 Gold Coast Games.
Sakshi Malik (Wrestling): She scripted history by winning bronze at 2016 Olympics and was awarded the Khel Ratna the same year, but Sakshi has been nominated for Arjuna Award this year by the wrestling federation. Her form has not been great lately with only a bronze at 2018 Asian Games to show for in the recent years.
Deepak Punia (Wrestling): Deepak is a star in making with eye-catching performances from the youth level. After winning gold at Asian Junior Championships and World Cadet Championships, Deepak stunned the world by winning the yellow metal at World Junior Championships in 86kg category in 2019. He then went onto win a silver at senior championships last year to qualify for Olympics.
Rahul Aware (Wrestling): Aware has been around for a long time but has witnessed a sharp turnaround in his career lately leading to his nomination. He won the gold in 57kg category at 2018 CWG, captured bronze at Asian Championships in 2019 and 2020 before winning his biggest prize, a bronze at World Championships in the 61kg category.
Sandeep Tomar (Wrestling): The 57kg category wrestler has been making India proud in different competitions. Sandeep won the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships gold in 2016 and the top prize at Asian Wrestling Championships the same year.
Naveen (Wrestling): The Greco-Roman wrestler Naveen has also been nominated for the Arjuna Award this year.
Khel Ratna Award nominees: Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw), Amit Panghal (Boxing), Vikas Krishan (Boxing), Rohit Sharma (Cricket), Rani Rampal (Hockey), Manika Batra (Table Tennis), Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling), Hima Das (Athletics), Kidambi Srikanth (Badminton)
Arjuna Award nominees: Dutee Chand (Athletics), Arpinder Singh (Athletics), Manjit Singh (Athletics), PU Chitra (Athletics), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (Badminton), Chirag Shetty (Badminton), Sameer Verma (Badminton), Manish Kaushik (Boxing), Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Simranjit Kaur (Boxing), Shikhar Dhawan (Cricket), Ishant Sharma (Cricket), Deepti Sharma (Cricket), Rashid Khan (Golf), Aditi Ashok (Golf), Diksha Dagar (Golf), Vandana Kataria (Hockey), Monika (Hockey), Harmanpret Singh (Hockey), Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting), Abhishek Verma (Shooting), Manu Bhaker (Shooting), Elavenil Valarivan (Shooting), Suthirtha Mukherjee (Table Tennis), Madhurika Patkar (Table Tennis), Manav Thakkar (Table Tennis), Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting), Ragala Venkat Rahul (Weightlifting), Poonam Yadav (Weightlifting), Sakshi Malik (Wrestling), Deepak Punia (Wrestling), Rahul Aware (Wrestling), Sandeep Tomar (Wrestling), Naveen (Wrestling)
Commonwealth Games: Sagar, Tokas join Amit Panghal, Jaismine in boxing semi-finals to ensure seven medals
Amit Panghal and Jaismine won their respective bouts to take India's medal count in boxing to five at the Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games: Sakshi Malik also strongly thought about retirement. The demons in her mind were understandable as she was losing to her juniors in the domestic circuit and had not done much of notice since getting that historic bronze in Rio Olympics six years ago.
India's star wrestler Sakshi Malik won India's second gold medal in the discipline at the Commonwealth Games 2022 when she defeated Canada's Ana Gonzalez by pinfall in the women's 62 kg category final