New Delhi: Vice-captain of limited-overs of Indian cricket team Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, India women's hockey skipper Rani Rampal Table tennis star Manika Batra and Rio Paralympic gold-winning high jumper Mariappan Thangavelu will be conferred the country's highest sporting honour Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna at a specially organized function through virtual mode from Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29.
The 12-member selection committee of the Sports Ministry had earlier recommended four names for the the prestigious award, but later Rani Rampal's name was also added in the list. The final decision was with sports minister Kiren Rijiju and now all five names have been finalised by the sports minister.This is first occasion in history of Khel Ratna that five athletes will be conferred country's top sporting honour.
This year there were 49 applicants for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. Performance from January 2016 to December 2019 were kept as the criteria for the Khel Ratna.Earlier, in 2016, wrestler Sakshi Malik, shooter Jitu Rai, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and star shuttler P V Sindhu were who jointly received this award.
Rohit will earn the honour to be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni who retired on Saturday and present captain Virat Kohli to be chosen for the country's highest honour.
Rohit has been brilliant with the bat in all formats of the game, Vinesh made a stunning comeback from knee injury that she suffered during the 2016 Rio Olympics, won gold at the 2018 Asian Games and bronze at the World Championships last year, where she also confirmed her place for the Tokyo Olympics.
Rampal has taken women's hockey in India to new heights, securing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Rampal helped India top the group and they reached the final of the Asian Games where they unfortunately lost 1-2 to Japan in a tense match.
Manika Batra won four medals that included women's individual and team golds 2018 Commonwealth Games. She also won a bronze medal at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in mixed doubles. Para high jumper Thangavelu bagged gold medal at the Rio Paralympics and also won bronze at World Para Athletics Championships last year. He won the arjuna award in 2017.(UNI)