The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is the highest award of the country in the field of sports. It is awarded annually by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. As of last year, the award comprises a medallion, a certificate, and a cash prize of ₹25 lakh. The recipients are selected by a committee constituted by the Ministry and are honored for their “spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports over a period of four years” at the international level.
Like every year, the central government has invited recommendations from the sports authorities. with not more than two sportspersons nominated for each sports discipline. The first recipient of the award was Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who was honored for the performance in the year 1991–92. As of 2020, 46 athletes have been bestowed with the prestigious award.
The Sports Ministry had first announced that it is inviting nominations for the National Sports Awards on May 20. Let us take a look at the nominations for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award nominees
Athletics Federation of India: Neeraj Chopra
Over the last five years, Neeraj Chopra has emerged as India’s most consistent athlete. The 23-year-old has established himself as the country’s brightest track and field prospect. Neeraj hogged the limelight back in 2016 as he broke the junior world record with a throw of 86.48m to clinch the gold medal at Junior World Championships.
Neeraj continued to carry his success with grace as he won the gold medal at the South Asian Games with an 82.23m throw. The very next year he bettered his throw to 85.23m as he clinched the gold medal at the Asian Championships. Neeraj hasn’t looked back since as he went on to win 10 more medals including five gold medals.
National Rifle Association of India: Anjum Moudgil and Ankur Mittal
Double trap world champion Ankur Mittal won the Arjuna Award in 2018, having been crowned the world champion that year. Mittal had bagged a silver medal at the 2017 ISSF World Shotgun Championships at Moscow, Russia. He also boasts a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games along with three gold medals at the Thailand Open.
Anjum Moudgil broke onto the international scene with a silver medal in World University Championship. She then went on to better her performance at the South Asian Games as she returned with the gold medal. Anjum hasn’t looked back ever since as she went on to win two silver medals at the 2018 World Championships. She is currently gearing up for her maiden Olympic appearance.
Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India: Musa Sherif
Musa Sherif is based out of Kasargod, Kerala, and is India’s most successful co-driver. He has won the national title seven times with Gaurav Gill. Musa, who has been into rallying for the last 30 years, has represented India globally and won championships across the world, including three back-to-back titles in the UAE, APRC 2 Asia Cup, Malaysian 4×4 amongst others.
Along with Gaurav, Musa entered into 65 rallies with 38 overall wins. Apart from the seven national titles, he also won the grueling Dakshin Dare on three occasions.
Table Tennis Federation of India: Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal is the first Indian table tennis player ever to become nine times Senior National Champion. Kamal has numerous laurels to his name including four Commonwealth Games gold medals. Barring national competitions in India, the veteran paddler has excelled in the German league proving his temperament.
Sharath has already sealed a spot at the Tokyo Olympics by virtue of him being the highest in the world rankings among all the players who were placed second in the tournament. This means that he has two shots at a medal in the Games although he would be more likely to do so in mixed doubles than in the singles category.
Archery Association of India: Jyothi Surekha
Jyothi Surekha is one of the most decorated Indian archers. She has whooping four gold medals to her name in the Asian Championships with her total medal tally being over 70. She was bestowed with the Arjuna Award in the year 2017 as she became the youngest South Indian to bag the prestigious award. Now she is all set to add one more feather to her cap with the Khel Ratna.