New Delhi: Ace shooter Gagan Narang will be conferred the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award by President Pratibha Patil on August 29 as the government officially announced the list of awardees on Thursday.
The names of the sportspersons to be conferred Arjuna, Dhyan Chand and Dronacharya Awards for the year 2011 were also announced on Thursday though the list of the recipients was already out last month.
Ace Indian shooter Gagan Narang, who notched up four gold medals at last year's Commonwealth Games, will receive the country's highest sporting honour - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna - from the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The 28-year-old rifle shooter, who was the first Indian marksman to qualify for next year's London Olympics with a bronze in the World Championships last year, had been disgruntled at being "ignored" for the award last year.
Nineteen sportspersons - Zaheer Khan (Cricket), Rahul Banerjee (Archery), Preeja Sreedharan (Athletics), Vikas Gowda (Athletics), Jwala Gutta (Badminton), Suranjoy Singh (Boxing), Sunil Chhetri (Football), Rajpal Singh (Hockey), Virdhawal Khade (Swimming), Tejaswini Sawant (Shooting), Ashish Kumar (Gymnastics), Somdev Devvarman (Tennis), Ravinder Singh (Wrestling), Ravi Kumar (Weightlifting), Sandhya Rani (Wushu), Prasanta Karmakar (Swimming), Sanjay Kumar (Volleyball), Rakesh Kumar (Kabaddi) and Tejaswini (Kabaddi) - have been chosen for the Arjuna Awards.
Normally not more than 15 Arjuna awards are given in a calendar year. But the scheme of Arjuna Awards also provides that keeping in view the performance of Indian sportspersons in the Commonwealth, Asian Games and Olympic Games during a particular year, the awards exceeding 15 in number may be allowed with proper justification and approval of the Sports Ministry.
The Committee noted that Asian Games and Commonwealth Games were held in the year 2010, wherein the performance of Indian sportspersons was exceptional. Keeping this factor in view, the Committee recommended names of 19 sportspersons for the Arjuna Award.
The 32-year-old India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who has taken 271 Test wickets at an average of 31.94, besides 273 One-day wickets at an average of 28.84, is the first male cricketer to be selected for the Arjuna Award after Gautam Gambhir was named in 2009.
While Indian football striker Sunil Chettri has been shortlisted, rising tennis star Somdev Devvarman, who had struck a golden double last year by finishing on top in both the Commonwealth and Asian Games singles events, has also been picked for the honour.
Fly weight boxer Suranjoy Singh, who clinched an astonishing seven back-to-back gold medals last year including the Commonwealth Games gold, also made it to the final list.
Discus thrower Vikas Gowda, who won a bronze medal in the Asian Games last year, and long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan, an Asian Games gold-medallist, were the track and field athletes who made the cut.
Among shooters, India's first woman world champion Tejaswini Sawant, who clinched the top honours in the 50m rifle prone event, has been chosen.
Ashish Kumar, the first Indian gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, also made it to the list. He had clinched a silver in the men's vault and bronze in the men's floor events of the Delhi Games.
Wushu player Sandhya Rani will also be feted for her Asian Games silver with the Arjuna award, while archer Rahul Banerjee, who clinched the men's recurve gold in the Commonwealth Games last year, will also be honoured.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna: Gagan Narang (Shooting)
Arjuna Awards: Zaheer Khan (Cricket, Rahul Banerjee (Archery), Preeja Sreedharan (Athletics), Jwala Gutta (Badminton), Suranjoy Singh (Boxing), Sunil Chhetri (Football), Rajpal Singh (Hockey), Rakesh Kumar (Kabaddi), Tejaswini Sawant (Shooting), Virdhawal Khade (Swimming), Ashish Kumar (Gymnastics), Somdev Devvarman (Tennis), Ravinder Singh (Wrestling), Ravi Kumar (Weightlifting), Vikas Gowda (Athletics), Sandhya Rani (Wushu), Prasanta Karmakar (Swimming), Sanjay Kumar (Volleyball), Tejaswini (Kabaddi).
Dronacharya Awards: Inukurthi Venkateshwara Rao (Boxing), Devender Kumar Rathore (Gymnastics), Ramphal (Wrestling), Kuntal Roy (Athletics), Rajinder Singh (Hockey).
Dhyan Chand Awards: Shabbir Ali (Football), Sushil Kohli (Swimming), Rajkumar (Wrestling).
Story first published on: Thursday, 18 August 2011 18:13 IST