Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik was on Saturday (August 17) nominated for the country’s highest sporting honour – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award – along with Asian and Commonwealth Games champion wrestler Bajrang Punia.
The name of 48-year-old Deepa, who won a silver medal in the shot put F53 category in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, was added for the Khel Ratna by a 12-member selection committee on the second day of the two-day meeting. World’s no. 1 wrestler in 65 kg, Punia was nominated for the country’s top award on Friday (August 16) by the panel headed by Justice (retired) Mukundakam Sharma.
Six-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist boxer MC Mary Kom recused herself from the meeting to avoid conflict of interest as her personal coach Chhotelal Yadav was in contention for the Dronacharya Award.
The committee also picked 19 sportspersons for the Arjuna Award, including the likes of cricketers Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav, track and field stars Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, Mohammed Anas, and Swapna Barman, footballer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, hockey player Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and shooter Anjum Moudgil.
As per guidelines, to be eligible for the award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous four years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, and a sense of discipline.
The panel also nominated three names for the Dronacharya Award, including former badminton star Vimal Kumar, and three for the Dronacharya Award (lifetime category).