Kohli, Mirabai recommended for Khel Ratna

Mirabai Chanu attempts a lift on her way to win the gold medal in women’s 48kg category at the World Weightlifting Championships. PTI file photo

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were Monday jointly recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, while star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was among 20 sportspersons picked for the Arjuna Awards.

Besides Chopra, other prominent names recommended for the Arjuna Awards were junior world champion athleteHima Das and Asian Games gold-medallist middle distance runner Jinson Johnson, cricketer Smriti Mandhana, hockey players Manpreet Singh and Savita Punia, multiple Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manika Batra and Asian Games doubles gold-medallist tennis player Rohan Bopanna.

These recommendations are subject to approval by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Once ratified by him, President Ram Nath Kovind will present the awards on September 25 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Kohli will become the third Indian cricketer after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and the talismanic former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007) once the sports ministry officially accepts the committee's recommendation.

"Yes, Virat Kohli and Mirabai Chanu's names have been recommended by the awards committee," a top source told PTI on condition of anonymity.

It is learnt that India's top male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth was also in Khel Ratna contention for his good show in the Super Series Circuit last year but lost out to the 24-year-old Chanu, who is the reigning world champion in the 48kg category.

Asian Games gold-medallist boxer Amit Panghal was discussed but the committee decided against recommending him due to a failed dope test back in 2012, a source told PTI.

Former Asian Games bronze-medallist and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar was the lone boxer in the Arjuna list this year. Tennis ace Rohan Bopanna also is in the list.

Three shooters -- Ravi Rathore, Ankur Mittal and Shreyasi Singh -- also figured in list of 20 recommended sportspersons while there were two from para-sports -- Ankur Dhama and Manoj Sarkar.

This year's award ceremony was postponed to September 25 from the usual August 19 National Sports Day event due to clash of dates with the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.

The Khel Ratna awardees are entitled to a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh, while the Arjuna winners are given Rs 5 lakh.

Kohli, the world's No.1 Test batsman as per the ICC rankings, has been in stupendous form for the past three years and missed out despite nominations in the years 2016 and 2017.

For Chanu, the award comes as a massive morale-booster as she is currently recovering from a lower back injury, which forced her to skip the Asian Games in Jakarta.

She is the current Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and India's only medal hope in weightlifting going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna recommendations:

Virat Kohli (cricket) and Mirabai Chanu (weightlifting).

Arjuna Award recommendations:

Neeraj Chopra (Athletics); Jinson Johnson (Athletics), Hima Das (Athletics); N Sikki Reddy (Badminton); Satish Kumar (Boxing); Smriti Mandhana (Cricket); Shubankar Sharma (Golf); Manpreet Singh (Hockey); Savita (Hockey); Ravi Rathore (Polo); Rahi Sarnobat (Shooting); Ankur Mittal (Shooting); Shreyashi Singh (Shooting); Manika Batra (Table Tennis); G Sathiyan (Table Tennis); Rohan Bopanna (Tennis); Sumit (Wrestling); Pooja Kadian (Wushu); Ankur Dhama (Para athletics); Manoj Sarkar (Para badminton).

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