Indian table tennis’ warhorse Achanta Sharath Kamal was recommended for the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award by the selection committee, headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice A M Khanwilkar.
Sharath, 40, was rewarded for his superlative performance at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG), where he won four medals – three gold and one silver. The Asian Games medallist was the only athlete among the 42 Khel Ratna aspirants, who had applied for the country’s highest sporting honour this year.
Some sportspersons who missed out on the Khel Ratna included men’s hockey players Harmanpreet Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh, women’s hockey team captain and goalkeeper Savita Punia and forward Vandana Katariya, men’s singles badminton player Kidambi Srikanth, fencer Bhavani Devi, men’s freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia and 50m rifle 3P specialist Anjum Moudgil.
The 12-member committee has also rewarded the Indian badminton’s latest sensation, Lakshya Sen, with the Arjuna award. He finished runner-up at the All England Open before losing to Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and led the men’s badminton team to its first-ever gold medal finish at the Thomas Cup. He capped off his sensational season with a gold in the men’s singles and a silver in the mixed team event on his debut at the CWG.
The committee recommended 25 sportspersons for the Arjuna award this year. Besides Lakshya, some of the other names include GMs R Praggnanandhaa and Bhakti Kulkarni.