Olympic medallist Ravi Dahiya is planning to request Sports Minister Anurag Thakur to honour him with the Arjuna Award instead of the Khel Ratna.
The 24-year-old, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 57kg, was recommended for the Arjuna by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). However, the selection panel upgraded him to Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting award.
Ravi Dahiya, though, eagerly wants the Arjuna award and is planning to meet sports minister Anurag Thakur to discuss it.
“I am delighted that I have been nominated for the Khel Ratna. However, I really want the Arjuna award this year. Will talk to SAI and the meet the sports minister and request him to honor me with the Arjuna this year,” he told Sportskeeda exclusively.
Ravi Dahiya was amongst the 11 athletes selected for the country’s highest sporting honor. However, if he gets Khel Ratna this year, he will not get recommendation for Arjuna in the future, similar to Sakshi Malik.
The women’s wrestler was bestowed with the Khel Ratna award in 2016 after she became the first Indian female grappler to win an Olympic medal. In 2020, she had applied for the Arjuna award. However, WFI did not recommend her for it and cited that “she has already won the highest sporting award, so there is no point awarding her the Arjuna.”
Ravi Dahiya believes he might face the same and hence want to avoid this scenario.
“It was my dream to get both Arjuna and Khel Ratna. But if I get the Khel Ratna, then I will become ineligible for the Arjuna,” he said.
However, there is no provision that states a Khel Ratna awardee cannot be honored with the Arjuna award in the future. The selection committee can leave the final call at the sport minister’s discretion.
Who else got nominated for Khel Ratna alongside Ravi Dahiya?
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who became only the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games is amongst the athletes nominated. Other recommended athletes are Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (boxing), seasoned hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and women's cricket Test skipper Mithali Raj.
Sunil Chhetri is the only footballer to be selected for the honor. He is the first Indian footballer to win the Khel Ratna.
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Amongst the Paralympians, shooters Avani Lekhara and Manish Narwal, javelin thrower Sumit Antil and shuttlers Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar have been recommended.