New Delhi: Commonwealth Games gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been recommended for the country’s highest sporting honour—the Khel Ratna Award by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Friday.
The 20-year-old Chopra, who also won the gold medal in the 2016 world junior championships, has also been recommended for the Arjuna Award by the federation. Javelin thrower Annu Rani and four-time Commonwealth Games medallist Seema Antil Punia also have been recommended for the Arjuna Award.
“Seema deserves an Arjuna Award. She is one of the greatest and most consistent athlete India has produced. Her four-consecutive gold medals at Commonwealth Games proves that," said Bahadur Singh, chairman of Arujna Award recommendation committee of AFI.
The federation has also nominated legendary athlete turned coach P.T. Usha and India youth team coach, Sanjay Garnaik for the Dronacharya Award. The AFI also recommended Bobby Aloysius, Kuldeep Singh Bhullar and Jata Shankar for the Dhyanchand Award, while sending T.P. Ouseph’s name to the ministry for Life Time Achievement Award.
Chopra became only the fifth Indian athlete to have won a track and field gold medal at the Commonwealth Games after throwing 86.47m. He had earlier claimed a gold at the World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland with a throw of 86.48m, which is still a world record in the youth category. He also won a gold at the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar.
Seema, on the other hand, had a long career which started with a medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships. She, however, received a warning for the use of a stimulant- pseudoephedrine but was never suspended. She won a bronze at the 2002 World Junior Championships. Seema has never finished out of the podium at the Commonwealth Games, winning a bronze and three silvers, the last of which came at the 2018 Games at Gold Coast.
The 34-year-old athlete from Sonipat has also competed in three Olympic Games. In the last Asian Games at Incheon in 2014, Seema won a gold medal.