Having twice missed out on the highest award for sporting excellence, double-trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi became third time lucky when he was recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on Tuesday.
Once the awards are ratified by the Union Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, the 33-year-old Asian Games champion and winner of multiple World Cup gold medals will become the seventh shooter to receive the award and third in a row. While Gagan Narang received it in 2011, London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar pipped Sodhi last year. Sodhi beat discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who made the women’s discus final in the London Olympics.
Besides Sodhi, the committee also named dashing batsman Virat Kohli and rising badminton star P.V. Sindhu among 14 sportspersons recommended for the Arjuna Award.
18-year-old Sindhu became the first Indian woman to clinch a singles medal at the recent world badminton championships in Guangzhou (she lost to the eventual champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand in the semifinals). She beat the defending champion Wang Yihan and another former world No.1 Wang Shixian.
Kohli has been the leading performer for the last two years, and is widely tipped to receive the award.
Triple-jumper Renjith Maheshwary, rising golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar and squash star Joshna Chinappa have also been recommended for the Arjuna Award.
The nominees: Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Ronjan Sodhi (shooting); Arjuna Award: Chekrovolu Swuro (archery), Renjith Maheshwary (athletics), P.V. Sindhu (badminton), Kavita Chahal (boxing), Rupesh Shah (cue sports), Virat Kohli (cricket), Abhijeet Gupta (chess), Mouma Das (table tennis), Gaganjeet Bhullar (golf), Saba Anjum (hockey), Rajkumari Rathore (shooting), Joshna Chinappa (squash), Neha Rathi and Dharmender Dalal (wrestling), Amit Kumar Saroha (paralympics).