The Odisha government has nominated internationally-acclaimed Indian sprinter Dutee Chand for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. The Khel Ratna is the country's highest sporting honor.
The current national 100m champion Dutee Chand expressed her gratitude for the government in a tweet:
"I'm thankful to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik for nominating my name for the Khel Ratna Award. May your blessing always be upon me."
The Sports Ministry received five other recommendations from the Odisha government in addition to Chand.
They include Birendra Lakra for the Arjuna Award, hockey coach Kalu Charan Choudhury for the Dronacharya, and Olympian Anuradha Biswal for the Dhyan Chand award.
KIIT Deemed University and Odisha Mining Corporation were also nominated for the Rashtriya Khel Prostahan Puraskar. KIIT Deemed University and Odisha Mining Corporation have both been working to help groom budding sportspeople and identify talent.
Dutee Chand set to make it to the Tokyo Olympics
The star Indian sprinter also looks set to make it to the Tokyo Olympics on the basis of world rankings. Last week, at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in Patiala, Dutee Chand broke her own national record in women's 100 meters after clocking 11.7 seconds. This was agonizingly short of the Olympic qualification mark by 0.02 seconds.
Earlier in 2018, Dutee Chand made the nation proud by bringing home two silver medals from the 2018 Asian Games - one each in 100m and 200m. The Odisha government had felicitated Chand for the same and rewarded her INR 3 crore.
The 25-year-old has also been in the limelight after becoming India's first openly gay athlete. She came out in May 2019 and openly shared her sexual preference. Chand had also revealed back then that her soulmate was a girl from her hometown of Jagpur.