Rohit Sharma, the Indian ODI vice-captain, is one of the five sportspersons nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country’s highest sporting honour. Others who are nominated include wrestler Vinesh Phogat, table tennis star Manika Batra, women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal and Rio Paralympic gold-winning high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu.
The sports ministry selection committee has also nominated 29 athletes for the Arjuna award. For the first time in the history of Khel Ratna that five athletes have been recommended. The final call for the winner lays with the sports minister Kiren Rijiju.
Ishant Sharma is also among the nominees for the Arjuna award. The 31-year-old pacer has been part of 97 Tests and 80 ODIs for the national team, taking over 400 international wickets.
Other names in the list for the Arjuna award include archer Atanu Das, women’s hockey team player Deepika Thakur, tennis player Divij Sharan and kabaddi player Deepak Hooda.
India opener Rohit Sharma will be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and skipper Virat Kohli to be conferred with the Khel Ratna. The award was won by Sachin Tendulkar won it in 1998, MS Dhoni in 2007 and Virat Kohli in 2018.
Due to COVID pandemic this year the National Sports Awards ceremony will be conducted virtually, that would have taken place at the Rashtrapati Bhavan otherwise.
The award ceremony will be held on August 29, which is celebrated as the National Sports Day in memory and honour of hockey legend Dhyan Chand.
On the National Sports Day, apart from the Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, the Dronacharya and the Dhyan Chand awards will also be awarded for achievements in coaching. The President of India confers all three awards.