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Virat Kohli, Mirabai Chanu frontrunners to win Khel Ratna

Sagnik Kundu
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
552   //    09 May 2018, 19:02 IST

Weightlifting - Commonwealth Games Day 1
Mirabai Chanu

Like every year, this year as well there is a lot of excitement and buzz in the build-up to the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna awards. And, with India's resounding success at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the excitement has only increased manifold.

Of course, as per norm, performances up to 31st December, 2017 were to be taken into account and the different sports federations have already sent in their nominations. However, the Sports Ministry may be tilted to make exceptions this year, it has been learnt.

Among those who have been nominated are India's cricket team captain Virat Kohli, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, Kidambi Srikanth, Neeraj Chopra and Vikas Krishan. Interestingly enough, Mirabai has also been nominated for the Arjuna award.

As has been learnt by Sportskeeda and as per multiple reports, Kohli and Mirabai are the frontrunners to win the Khel Ratna award. Now, as per norms, to win the Khel Ratna, the athlete should have won the Arjuna award previously. But again, exceptions have been made on a few occasions.

Mirabai impressed one and all at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when she bagged the gold medal by creating a new Games record. Last year, as well, she set a new world record of 194kg -- 85kg snatch and 109kg clean-and-jerk -- one her way to a gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships. In the process, became only the second Indian weightlifter to win gold at the World Championships. Karnam Malleswari had achieved the feat way back in 1995.

Neeraj Chopra and Vikas Krishan also have made a strong case for themselves. Having won four Super Series titles last year, Srikanth, as well, is a strong contender.

It's tough for Kohli to win the award

Talking about Kohli's chances, the star batsman has been in a terrific run of form for quite some time now. It almost seems like he can achieve anything he wants to. However, Khel Ratna is an award that still eludes him. Back in 2016, BCCI had recommended the name of Kohli for this award but that effort was unsuccessful.

Indeed, cricket is a sport that is considered as a religion by many in the country. However, for cricketers, traditionally, it has been very difficult to get their hands on the Khel Ratna award. Ever since 1991-92, when the Khel Ratna was first awarded for the first time, only two cricketers have managed to receive it. Sachin Tendulkar, in 1997-98, and MS Dhoni, in 2007, were conferred with the prestigious award. Rahul Dravid was also nominated twice by the board but he never received it.

In fact, with regards to giving the prestigious award, the parameter of measuring success and giving preference lies in performance rather than the popularity of the athlete or the sport. And if the committee goes by that again this time, especially, with the kind of performances the likes of Mirabai, Srikanth or Neeraj has churned out, then it might be very difficult for Kohli to win the award.

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