Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat are in contention for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the country’s highest sporting honour, after notching up gold medals in this year’s Commonwealth Games and the ongoing Asian Games 2018.
It has been learnt that Bajrang has already filed his nomination through the Wrestling Federation of India; Vinesh is likely to be considered by the Sports Ministry, a source in the Wrestling Federation of India to PTI.
Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is set to analyse the Indian athletes’ performance in the Asian Games in the first week of September. The Ministry is then likely to make its recommendations for the National Sports Awards to the selection committee, which will be finalised in the next few days.
A Sports Ministry official too said that Bajrang and Vinesh are strong contenders for the award along with already-nominated India cricket captain Virat Kohli and star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who too is a strong contender after winning back-to-back golds in Gold Coast and Jakarta.
“Both Bajrang and Vinesh’s names were not in the entries received by the Ministry by April 30 cut-off date but we will have a review meeting of the Asian Games medal winners soon and the Ministry can recommend some eligible candidates to the existing list to the selection committee.
“Not just Bajrang and Vinesh, there were many other great performances from our athletes in the Asian Games and they will be considered as well,” he added.
Vinesh is also a two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, having won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2018.
Bajrang too won gold medals in Gold Coast and Asiad this year. He also has a World Championship bronze in 2013 besides silver medals in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and Glasgow CWG.