Asian Games and Commonwealth gold medallist Jitu Rai and gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who finished fourth in the women's vault final at Rio, has been cleared for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. A 12-member selection panel of the Sports Ministry met on Wednesday to clear the name of the athletes.
Days after their exploits in the 2016 Rio Olympics, shooter Jitu Rai and gymnast Dipa Karmakar have been recommended for the prestigious Khel Ratna Award.
29-year-old Jitu Rai is currently third in the world in both men’s 10m and 50m pistol events, and was one of the two Indian shooters to make it to the final of an event at Rio, the other being Abhinav Bindra. Rai finished eighth in the men’s 10m pistol
Yes, we have recommended Jitu’s name for the Khel Ratna award."
NRAI Secreatry Rajiv Bhatia
“Yes, we have recommended Jitu’s name for the Khel Ratna award,” National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia said, reported PTI.
Seven shooters have received the Khel Ratna award so far with the last being Ronjan Sodhi in 2012-13.
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar became an overnight sensation in the country after her brilliant performance in the Olympics, where she finished fourth in the women’s vault final, missing the bronze medal by just 0.150 points. Dipa had also won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
According to a PTI report, any Indian athlete who wins a medal at the ongoing Rio Olympics will also be awarded the Khel Ratna award. Sakshi Malik gave India its first medal on the wee hours of Thursday, and could get a recommendation for the award if the reports are true.
Indian Test captain Virat Kohli was also in the running for the award, but with this being an Olympic year, he missed out to Jitu and
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is given to the sportsperson who has produced spectacular and outstanding performance in the last four years and it carries a cash amount of Rs 7.5 lakh. The winners will receive the award from President Pranab Mukherjee on August 29, which is the National Sports Day.
Sania Mirza was the last recipient of the award in 2015.