Tokyo Olympic-bound Sai Praneeth and former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth recommended by BAI for Khel Ratna Award

Kidambi Srikanth (centre), B Sai Praneeth (right) with HS Prannoy (Source: Twitter)
Kidambi Srikanth (centre), B Sai Praneeth (right) with HS Prannoy (Source: Twitter)

Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifier B Sai Praneeth and former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth have been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) has recommended the names of both players for the highest sports award in the country.

For the Arjuna Award, BAI has put forward the names of former national champions HS Prannoy (Kerala), Pranav Jerry Chopra (Punjab) and Sameer Verma (Madhya Pradesh).

BAI general secretary Ajay Kumar Singhania confirmed the news of the recommendations of the badminton players.

“We have given names of B Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth for the Khel Ratna Award. At this time we have recommended two names. For the Arjuna Award, we have recommended HS Prannoy, Pranav Jerry Chopra and Sameer Verma,” said Ajay Kumar Singhania.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had earlier decided to extend the final date of submission of applications for the upcoming National Sports Awards 2021.

Earlier, the last date to submit applications was June 21. Nominations/applications from eligible sportspeople, coaches, entities and universities were invited for the award and were to be emailed as per an official statement from the ministry.

I am happy, but it is just a recommendation: Sai Praneeth

Sai Praneeth was really happy to get recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

“Yes it’s a very good feeling to get the BAI’s recommendation for the prestigious Khel Ratna Award. But it is just a nomination. The final list will be announced later,” said Sai Praneeth after the practice session on Thursday.

The 28-year-old became the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to claim a bronze medal at the BWF World Championships in 2019 after Prakash Padukone. Sai Praneeth was honored with the Arjuna Award in 2019.

Kidambi Srikanth was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in 2018. Srikanth’s father KVS Krishna, who turned 58 on Thursday, was happy about his son’s recommendation by the BAI.

“I am glad that the BAI has recommended Srikanth’s name. We hope he gets the award. Whoever is deserving should get the award,” said KVS Krishna.

The former world No. 1 had received the Arjuna Award in 2015. Srikanth was poised to represent the country for the second Olympics in Tokyo. However, the 28-year-old failed to qualify because of the cancelation of several tournaments.

Table tennis champion Manika Batra, Indian cricket team star Rohit Sharma, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Rani Rampal and Mariyappan Thangavelu were awarded the Khel Ratna Award in 2020. It was the first time that five athletes received the honor.

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