NEW DELHI: Indian men’s hockey team captain Sardar Singh has been recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award while 11 other names, including six women, have been put forward by Hockey India for the Arjuna award.
Sardar has led the Indian team to many successes in the international arena in the last 12 months, including the gold medal at the Asian Games last year and a direct qualification for 2016 Rio Olympic Games, besides a silver in 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Under his captaincy, India also finished third in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last month. Sardar has already been conferred with the Arjuna award in 2012.
For the Arjuna awards, HI has recommended Danish Mujtaba, Dharamvir Singh, VR Raghunath, PR Sreejesh and SV Sunil among men, while Asunta Lakra, Deepika, Rani, Ritu Rani, Sushila Chanu and Vandana Katariya got the nod among women.
Champion pistol shooter Jitu Rai, Rahi Sarnobat and PN Prakash have been recommended by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for the Arjuna Awards this year. The 28-year-old Jitu won an Indian record seven medals during a dream phase that started in June last year, the most recent being the bronze in 10-metre air pistol event at the ISSF World Cup in South Korea last month.
Recruited in the 11th battalion of the Gorkha regiment, Rai clinched the gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth and Asian Games and a silver at the ISSF World Championships in Spain, which helped him earn a quota place for next year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Asian Games silver winner Sarnobat is the second athlete recommended from shooting. Bangalore-based Prakash had won a silver medal at the Glasgow games last year besides being crowned Champion of Champions at the 58th National Shooting Championships in Pune last December. He had also bagged a bronze in the 2013 World Cup in Changwon, South Korea.
In the same tournament, Sarnobat scripted history by becoming the first Indian pistol shooter to clinch a gold medal in a World Cup. Sarnobat is 24 years old while Prakash is aged 39.