Arjuna panel decides not to add more names to awards' list

The Arjuna Awards Committee on Tuesday decided against adding any more names to the list of 15 candidates recommended by it to the Sports Ministry for this year’s awards.

The Kapil Dev-led 12-member committee, which had to meet again to look into the case of the boxer Manoj Kumar besides a couple of other athletes’ pleas, desisted from setting any precedent in the selection procedure.

“We met to discuss the names afresh but after deliberation felt it will not be right. There will always be cases of players missing out but we cannot afford to set a wrong example.
“There are athletes like Tom Joseph who had to wait for nine years, Geethu Anna Jose waited for five years. If we keep on heeding every protest, then there is no end to it,” Sports Authority of India (SAI ) Director General Jiji Thomson told Deccan Herald.

“The rules are clear. We have to pick 15 athletes from which one would be a para athlete and we intend to continue with that in the future as well.,” he said.

As for Manoj, who lost out after being mistaken for a dope-sanctioned boxer, Thomson said the members were of the view that Jai Bhagwan was the better choice for the award. “Though Manoj also has good credentials, the panel was of the opinion that Jai Bhagwan faced tougher opponents and was the better boxer. It was felt Manoj can still wait for one more year for his award.”

As per the points system initiated by the government from this year, Manoj (32) led Jai Bhagwan (30) by two points. Manoj may not be able to benefit from his achievement in the 2010 Commonwealth Games (gold medal) while applying next year unless the ministry relaxes its rules related to the four-year cycle.

Thomson, however, said: “The members felt that to judge an athlete only on the basis of points is not fair. Thus the committee will make a recommendation to the ministry to keep the points system only while shortlisting the candidates during the review of the applications.” 

Thomson also rubbished Hockey India (HI) secretary-general Narinder Batra’s allegations of favouring Kerala players. Five sportspersons from Kerala were picked for this year. “All these athletes are representing different institutions, how can they be singled out for being Keralite?  It is rubbish to say so,” he said.

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