In a departure from convention, the national sports awards for athletes and coaches this year will be decided by a single 12-member panel, featuring the likes of six-time world champion boxer MC Mary Kom and former football captain Bhaichung Bhutia. The awards will be given away on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand which is celebrated as the National Sports Day.
"This year we are trying out a new idea of one selection committee for all the awards. We feel too many committees are unnecessary as they only make things difficult and create controversies," a Sports Ministry source told PTI.
The 12-member committee is headed by Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd) Mukundakam Sharma and comprises Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Jhulaniya, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandeep Pradhan, Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Commander Rajesh Rajagopalan, Mary Kom, Bhutia, ex-women's cricket team captain Anjum Chopra, celebrated former long-jumper Anju Bobby George and table tennis coach Kamlesh Mehta among others.
Besides, the committee also features two mediapersons in Chief Editor of Times Group (Digital) Rajesh Kalra and renowned sports commentator Charu Sharma.
Unlike previous editions, this committee will handpick all the winners of National Sports Awards -- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award (for coaches), Dhyan Chand Award (lifetime achievement) and Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award.
After considerable delay, the selection committee was finalised on Wednesday.
"Yes, we know we are little late in forming the committee but we have ample time in our hands to select the awardees," the source said.
The official further said the first meeting of the selection committee will be held early next week. By the end of the week, the award winners are likely to be announced.