Double trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi, the first Indian to win two back-to-back World Cup gold medals, was on Tuesday recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, while star cricketer Virat Kohli was among the 14 sportspersons picked for the Arjuna award by the selection committee in New Delhi.
The Olympic shooter was picked for the award by a committee headed by billiards legend Michael Ferreira on Tuesday. Sodhi is a double trap specialist and is a multiple-time world cup medalist, including two golds at the 2010 and 2011 editions in Turkey and UAE respectively. Sodhi also won gold at the 2010 Asian games in China.
Once his name is ratified by the Sports Ministry, the 33-year-old, who was conferred the Arjuna award in 2009, will become the seventh shooter to be honoured with the Khel Ratna. For the third consecutive year that the Khel Ratna has gone to a shooter. Gagan Narang had been presented the award in 2011, followed by Vijay Kumar last year. Vijay, a London Olympics silver medallist, was the joint winner along with wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who won a bronze at the same event.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli and PV Sindhu are among 14 sportspersons to be given the Arjuna Award. Kohli has been rewarded for exceptional performances with the Indian cricket team, including captaining the side on many occasions over the past couple of months. In the absence of MS Dhoni he led the national side to a 5-0 one-day international series triumph in Zimbabwe.
India's latest badminton sensation PV Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win the singles bronze medal at the world championships last week. En route to her record-breaking feat, Sindhu beat two former world No.1s before losing to eventual champion Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-final.
Apart from Sindhu, triple-jumper Renjith Maheshwary, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games with a national record, and rising golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar and Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta were among the sportspersons picked for the Arjuna award this year by the selection committee.
This year's Arjuna awardees list features just one boxer, World Championship bronze medallist Kavita Chahal.
The list also includes quite a few women including veteran squash player Joshna Chinappa, former hockey captain Saba Anjum, wrestler Neha Rathi, archer Chekrovolu Swuro and shooter Rajkumari Rathore.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award: Ronjan Sodhi.
The Arjuna awardees: Virat Kohli (Cricket), Chekrovolu Swuro (Archery), Renjith Maheshwary (Athletics), P V Sindhu (Badminton), Kavita Chahal (Boxing), Rupesh Shah (Snooker), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Golf), Saba Anjum (Hockey), Rajkumari Rathore (Shooting), Joshna Chinappa (Squash), Mouma Das (Table Tennis), Neha Rathi (Wrestling), Dharmendra Dalal (Wrestling), Amit Kumar Saroha (Athletics).
(with PTI inputs)