Sprinter Dutee Chand and former cricketer Harbhajan Singh have seen their application for the Khel Ratna award getting rejected by the sports ministry after they followed the norms. While Singh’s name was given after the deadline, Chand’s name was fifth on the list of three names allowed to AFI.
It was the Punjab government who had forwarded Singh’s name for the award but the ministry received the nomination on June 25, 2019, while the deadline for sending the application was April 30, 2019. Chand, on the other hand, was fifth on the list of The Athletics Federation of India with the likes of shot-putter Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, heptathlete Swapna Barman and triple jumper Arpinder Singh preceding her.
It has been reported that the AFI were preparing the list in a ranking order of athletes based on their performance at the events and international meets by the award, in respect to the cut-off deadline of April 30. Hence, Manjit Singh was placed fourth and Chand fifth in that order. The likes of Toor, Barman and Arpinder were selected based on their gold medal-winning performances at the Jakarta Asian Games and other international events.
Chand had also won two silver medals in the women's 100m and 200m races at the Asiad, but wasn’t a part of the Gold Coast CWG, which didn’t help her. Like Singh, the Odisha government had forwarded Dutee's name for Arjuna award was as well but they missed the deadline by at least a month. Chand recently became the first Indian woman track and field athlete to win a 100m race at a global meet in Napoli’s World Universiade.
Apart from them, BCCI has forwarded names of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and woman cricketer Poonam Yadav for the Arjuna award, although nothing has been made for Khel Ratna. After the ministry has drawn up the list of athletes recommended to the soon-to-be-constituted Khel Ratna and Arjuna award committee, the names would be send to sports minister Kiren Rijiju for final approval.
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