Somdev, Girisha, Vikas in race for Khel Ratna award

Top Indian tennis player Somdev Devvarman and para athlete HN Girisha are among the sportspersons nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for this year.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia is in contention for the third time in a row while Vikas Gowda, shuttler PV Sindhu, golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and Vikas Devendra (para) are the other athletes in the race.

The Sports Ministry had introduced new guidelines for the national awards at the beginning of this year. According to these guidelines medals won in the Olympic Games (Summer, Winter and Paralympics), Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cup and World Championships (held once in four years) would get 90 per cent weightage. Marks given by the selection committees will get 10 per cent weightage for the Khel Ratna and only one sportsperson will receive the award.

After Olympics, maximum weightage will be given to World Championship/ World Cup (once in four years), followed by Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.

While 90 marks will be given to the sportspersons getting maximum points in the World Championship/ World Cup, the rest of the sportspersons will be given marks proportionately to that athlete.

The new rules will heavily favour Somdev who in 2010 won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in the men’s singles event and gold medals in singles and men’s doubles in the Guangzhou Asian Games besides a bronze in the team event.

He is only the second Indian after Leander Paes to make it to the top hundred in men’s singles, with a career best ranking of 62 in 2011, the same year he was awarded the Arjuna award.

Giving Somdev, currently ranked 147 in ATP rankings, stiff competition will be Karnataka’s paralympian high jumper, Girisha who bagged a silver in the final of the 2012 Summer Paralympics. He was the first Indian to win a medal in that event.

Not to be discounted is Poonia, who was  India’s first ever individual woman gold medallist in the Delhi Commonwealth Games, bagging the discus title in 2010 at home. She was also the  bronze medallist in the 2010 Asian Games besides finishing sixth at the London Olympics.

Sindhu’s rise has been no less astounding. Only 19, she won the World Championships bronze in the women’s singles and even cracked into the top 10.

Among the list of doping cases noted by the ministry from among the Arjuna award nominees are wrestler Anil Kumar, a 2010 CWG gold medallist who is currently serving a suspension, and pistol shooter Anisa Sayyed, double gold medallist in the Delhi Games, who was given a ‘reprimand’ in a doping case in May 2012. She had produced medical records to substantiate the requirements that forced her to take the medicine that resulted in the positive test.

Meanwhile, the Dronacharya Committee will sit on Monday to deliberate on the names.

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