Rohit, four others recommended for Khel Ratna (Lead)

India’s star batsman Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu, table tennis sensation Manika Batra and Indian women’s hockey captain Rani Rampal have been recommended for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

According to sources, the National Award Committee met in the Capital on Tuesday and named the five athletes for the prestigious award.

Rohit was the star performer for India in the 2019 World Cup, scoring 648 runs in the tournament while Vinesh sealed qualification to the Tokyo Olympics with her bronze medal win at the 2019 wrestling World Championships. Vinesh also remains one of the biggest medal hopes for the country going into the Games which have been postponed to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Manika won two golds at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and subsequently won bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. She, however, is yet to seal qualification to the Tokyo Olympics after losing in the quarter finals of the Tokyo 2020 Qualifiers in January.

Mariyappan sealed qualification for next year’s Paralympics after claiming a bronze medal at the World Para-Athletics Championships. Rani meanwhile spearheaded the Indian team’s qualification campaign for Tokyo 2020 late last year.

Apart from the Khel Ratna, the committee will also decide upon recommendations for the Dronacharya Awards, Arjuna Awards, Dhyan Chand Awards, Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar Award and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (MAKA) Trophy for the year 2020.