The 2018 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion wrestler’s name has been confirmed for the prestigious honour by the 12-member National Sports Awards Committee today (Friday), first day of the two-day meeting to finalise the national sports awards – Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award.
The panel includes former Indian football team captain Baichung Bhutia and Olympic medallist boxer MC Mary Kom.
“Bajrang has been nominated for the Khel Ratna award. His name was a unanimous choice,” PTI has quoted a source close to the development.
The source also said that the 12-member panel may add another athlete for the top honour on Saturday besides finalising the names for the Arjuna and Dronacharya awards.
“I had the achievements to deserve this award. I have always said that awards should go to the most deserving ones,” Bajrang told PTI from Georgia where he is currently training.
Bajrang had last year won the gold medal in the 65-kg freestyle event at the Asian Games held in Jakarta. He had also won the gold medal in the same category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
He is also a two-time medallist at the world championships and a strong medal hope for India at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Wrestling Federation of India has nominated Punia and Vinesh Phogat for country’s top spots honour – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
After being deprived of the well-deserved honour following his Asian and Commonwealth Games success, Bajrang last year had threatened to move court over the Khel Ratna snub. He had only dropped the idea after being dissuaded by his mentor and Olympic Games silver medallist Yogeshwar Datt.
Bajrang was last year nominated for the Khel Ratna by the WFI in wake of his twin gold medals in the Jakarta Asian Games and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but the honour was jointly bestowed on Indian national cricket team captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.