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Tennis star Rohan Bopanna excluded from the final list of Arjuna Awards, para-sports coach removed from Dronacharya list

There was an outrage over Saketh Myneni being preferred to Bopanna, who won the French Open mixed doubles this year.


Bopanna had earlier tweeted out about his exclusion
Bopanna had earlier tweeted out about his exclusion

What’s the story?

Any faint hope of seeing Indian tennis ace Rohan Bopanna in the final list of the Arjuna and Khel Ratna awardees for this year has been washed out after the Indian Sports Ministry stuck to the recommendations forwarded by the panel.

Thus, Paralympic silver medalist Deepa Malik, who had openly spoken about the decision to exclude her name from the list of Khel Ratna awardees, was also not added to the final list.

The only change that the Ministry has brought about is excluding the name of the para-sports coach Satyanarayana from the list of the Dronacharya awardees because of a defamation case pending against him.

“Yes, we have checked off the name of Satyanarayana since he has a case pending against him,” said a Sports Ministry official, as quoted by PTI. The said coach mentored 2017 Arjuna Award nominee Mariyappan Thangavelu to the high jump gold in Rio Paralympics last year.

In case you didn’t know

There was an outrage over 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Saketh Myneni being preferred to Bopanna, who won the French Open mixed doubles this year. The latter’s achievements and consistency on the tennis circuit outweigh those of Myneni’s and the tennis fraternity felt it was wrongful to pick Saketh at the expense of Bopanna.

The heart of the matter

Mails have been sent to the respective winners on Friday night after the Sports Minister gave his seal of approval, thus slamming shut the door for Bopanna.

Speculation is rife if Bopanna had to pay the price for not playing at the Asian Games in 2014 which Saketh participated in and brought home two doubles medals from. His insistence on regularly playing on the ATP World Tour circuit has seemingly backfired and no matter how much he achieved there, it did not make his case any stronger.

It has been learnt that it was the very reason why the All India Tennis association (AITA) chose not to send his name as he fell short in that criterion. Following his monumental win at the French Open, Bopanna eventually did send his name way past the deadline and even met Vijay Goel but now it is clear that it could not influence the Sports Minister’s decision.

What’s next?

Bopanna just lost his campaign at the ongoing Cincinnati Masters in the quarter-finals, a week after reaching the final of the Montreal Masters. The tennis ace, who reached the US Open final in 2010, is hoping to go one better this time.

Author’s take

Bopanna’s exclusion reflects the pitiful state of affairs and once more raises questions over the system in which the awards nominees are chosen. It has once more brought to light the fallacy that sadly exists even today.

That said, all hope is not lost for the 37-year-old. His French Open victory has surely made him a top contender for the Arjuna Award next year.


Final list for the awards is as follows:

Khel Ratna award: Devendra Jhajaria (Para Athletics), Sardar Singh (Hockey)

Dronacharya award: Late Ramakrishnan Gandhi (Athletics), Heera Nand Kataria (Kabaddi)

Arjuna award: Saketh Myneni (Tennis), Mariyappan Thangavelu (Paralympic High Jump), Khushbir Kaur (Race Walking), Arokia Rajiv (Athletics - 400m), Prashanti Singh (Basketball), SV Sunil (Hockey), SSP Chawrasia (Golf), Satyawart Kadian (Wrestling), Anthony Amalraj (Table Tennis), PN Prakash (Shooting), Jasvir Singh (Kabaddi), Devendro Singh (Boxing), Oinam Bembem Devi (Football), Varun Bhati (Paralympic High Jump), VJ Surekha (Archery), Cheteshwar Pujara (Cricket), Harmanpreet Kaur (Cricket)

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