Table Tennis star Achanta Sharath Kamal feels that Badminton star Kidambi Srikanth and Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra deserve the Khel Ratna more than him, even though the former did not contest for the award this year. The paddler is the current world no. 31, the highest-ranked Indian player.
The Indian Government broke the shackles and awarded 27 Arjuna Awards and five Khel Ratna’s in the recently concluded National Sports Day, even though it was a non-Olympic year. While the move was welcomed by many, others had different views - claiming that the value of the award was being compromised by doing the same. Achanta Sharath Kamal, arguably India’s greatest ever Table Tennis player, did not send his name for the Khel Ratna this year or rather he was mistaken about the eligibility of the performance period to be considered.
Humble as ever, the paddler feels even if he sends a nomination next year, there are other athletes in the Indian circuit who deserve the award more than him. The World no. 31 has been pulled off some phenomenal wins in the past year or so, even though he feels that athletes like Kidambi Srikanth and Neeraj Chopra have been ranked no.1 in the world, which makes them more deserving for the prestigious award.
“I do know that next year if I apply, there is a high percentage that I will not get it...Next year, again Srikanth and Neeraj will be there; and more than me, they deserve it. Okay, I won the Oman Open this year and probably I am in that league as well; but I am still only world No. 31, Srikanth was world No. 1,” said Sharath Kamal, as reported by The Times of India.