India’s vice-captain and opening batsman Rohit Sharma is among the 4 athletes who have been recommended for India’s highest sporting honour — the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Along with Rohit Sharma, Asian Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat, table tennis champion Manika Batra and Paralympic gold medalist Mariappan Thangavelu have been recommended for the Khel Ratna Award.
The decision comes after the National Sports Awards selection committee met on Tuesday for deciding the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna and other national sports awards. This is only the first time since 2016 names of 4 athletes have been recommended for the award.
Rohit Sharma is set to become only the 4th cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to be conferred with Khel Ratna Award. Tendulkar was the first Indian cricketer to bag the Khel Ratna Award when he did so in 1998. Dhoni received the sporting honour after leading India to the T20 World Cup in 2007 while Virat Kohli won the award along with weightlifter Mirabai Chanu in 2018.
Vinesh Phogat became the first woman wrestler to win an Asian Games gold medal in 2018 while star paddler Manika Batra had a remarkable year in 2018 wherein she won the Commonwealth Games gold medal and Asian Games bronze in women’s singles.
Meanwhile, Mariappan Thangavelu created history at the Rio Paralympic Games when he won the gold medal in High Jump (T42).
The Khel Ratna Award was won by Paralympian Deepa Malik and wrestler Bajrang Punia in 2019.