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 at Tokyo Olympics 2021 Highlights, Day 12: Men's Hockey Team, Tajinderpal Singh Toor Disappoint on Tuesday
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 - Olympics Hockey: India Women Seek Golden End to Fairy Tale
Javelin thrower Annu Rani and four-time Commonwealth Games medallist Seema Antil Punia also have been recommended for the Arjuna Award. Also Read - India's Schedule at Tokyo Olympics 2020, Day 13, August 4: All You Need to Know
“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)