For the third time in a row, India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been recommended for the coveted Khel Ratna Award by the committee constituted by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is the country’s highest sporting honour. Chopra made headlines when he created an age-group world record at the World Youth Championships (2016) in Bydgoszcz, Poland with a throw of 86.48m, which is still a world record in the youth category. Also Read - India's 'Golden Girl' P.T Usha Celebrates 56th Birthday
The 22-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist had been conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2018 for his stellar show in the Jakarta Asian Games. In that year, he was also recommended for the Khel Ratna.
“Neeraj is the only athlete recommended by the awards committee for the Khel Ratna this year,” a source told PTI. Also Read - Leander Paes Ready With His 'New Version' But Concerned About Tokyo Olympics Future
Javelin thrower Annu Rani and four-time Commonwealth Games medallist Seema Antil Punia also have been recommended for the Arjuna Award. Also Read - BAI Recommends Kidambi Srikanth For Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna After Apology, HS Prannoy Issued Show-cause Notice For His Outburst
“Seema deserves an Arjuna Award. She is one of the greatest and most consistent athletes India has produced. Her four-consecutive gold medals at Commonwealth Games proves that,” said Bahadur Singh, chairman of Arjuna Award recommendation committee of AFI.
The federation has also nominated legendary athlete turned coach PT Usha and India youth team coach, Sanjay Garnaik for the Dronacharya Award.
Chopra has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.86m in South Africa in January in his first competition after recovering from an elbow injury.
He missed the entire 2019 season due to the injury but breached the Olympic qualification mark of 85m. In 2019, Chopra had missed the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships while recovering from the injury.
Chopra became only the fifth Indian athlete to have won a track and field gold medal at the Commonwealth Games after after throwing 86.47m. He also won a gold at the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar.
The Khel Ratna Award carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
(With Agency Inputs)