The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Monday recommended recently-crowned Asian Champion Bajrang Punia and last year’s Asian Games gold-medallist Vinesh Phogat for the country’s highest sporting honour — the Rajeev Khel Ratna award.
Bajrang and Vinesh’s names were sent by WFI owing to their remarkable performances in the last couple of years.
“They (Bajrang and Vinesh) have been recommended for Khel Ratna by the WFI after both of them submitted their applications,” a WFI official confirmed.
World no. 1 Bajrang has recently stamped his authority at the Asian Championship in Xi’an, China by clinching a gold medal in the men’s 65kg freestyle event.
Last year, the 25-year-old grappler had bagged the yellow metal at the Jakarta Asian Games too.
Vinesh could only win a bronze at the recent Asian Championship, but considering that she fought in a new weight category of 53kg, it was seen as a good achievement.
In 2018, the 24-year-old became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Besides Bajrang and Vinesh, WFI has recommended names of Rahul Aware, Harpreet Singh, Divya Kakran and Pooja Dhanda for the Arjuna award.
Dhanda, 25, had claimed a bronze at the World Championships last year after a silver to her credit at the Commonwealth Games.
The 21-year-old Kakran ended with a bronze at the Asian Championship. The youngster had a third-place finish both at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year.
Aware was the gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, while Harpreet Singh won a silver at the Asian Championship on Sunday.
Last year, Bajrang had cried foul after he was denied the Khel Ratna and instead cricketer Virat Kohli and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were conferred the top honours.
Bajrang, who had threatened to move court due to this, would be hoping to make the cut this time around.
The WFI has also recommended Virender Kumar, Sujeet Maan, Narendra Kumar and Vikram Kumar for the Dronacharya award, meant for high-performing coaches.
Bheem Singh and Jai Prakash’s names have been sent for the Dhyanchand award for lifetime achievement. (PTI)