Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra was on Saturday recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India's highest sporting honour, by the committee constituted by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the third time in a row.
Chopra was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2018 after winning gold in the javelin throw at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. "Neeraj is the only athlete recommended by the awards committee for the Khel Ratna this year," a source told PTI.
Meanwhile, the BCCI recommended Rohit Sharma for the Khel Ratna. If Rohit wins the award, he will become only the fourth cricketer, after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, to do so.
"We went through a lot of data and considered various parameters before shortlisting the nominees. Rohit Sharma has set new benchmarks as a batsman and achieved scores people thought were not possible in the shorter formats of the game," BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said.
"We feel he is worthy of getting the prestigious Khel Ratna award for his commitment, conduct, consistency and his leadership skills," Ganguly added.
The Award carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
The BCCI also nominated opener Shikhar Dhawan, fast bowler Ishant Sharma, and all-rounder Deepti Sharma for the Arjuna Award. "Ishant Sharma is the most senior member of the Test squad and his contribution has been vital in Indian team's long run as the No. 1 Test side. Fast bowlers are prone to injuries and Ishant has had a fair share of them but he has fought hard to be back on the park every time. Shikhar has been consistently scoring at the top and his performances in the ICC events have been significant. Deepti is a genuine all-rounder and her contribution to the team has been vital," said Ganguly.
Returning to track and field, Dutee Chand, who won a gold in the World University Games in 2019 and two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Games (one each in 100m and 200m), has already been recommended for the Arjuna Award by the Odisha government.