Hyderabad/New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh archer V Jyothi Surekha, table tennis player Manika Batra and women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal have been nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards. AP government nominated Surekha’s name while TTFI and Hockey India recommended Manika and Rani names respectively.
Surekha has been representing India for the last 10 years and won 33 International medals which include 3 world championship medals, two Asian Games medals and several medals in World Cups and Asian Championships. Manika is the first woman paddler from the country to win a singles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. In the same edition held in Gold Coast, the 24-year-old had led India to its first ever women’s team gold at the Commonwealth Games. Later, she created more history by winning a mixed doubles bronze alongside Sharath Kamal at the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Rani led the team to historic victories in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017, silver at the 2018 Asian Games and played a critical role in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 by scoring the deciding goal that helped India qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Rani is also the first Indian to be named as the World Games Athlete of The Year.
The Volleyball Federation of India has given K Venkatnarayana’s name for the Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime achievements. The Hyderabad-based volleyball player was the Indian setter in the 80s and 90s. He also led India in the Asian championship.
Meanwhile, top men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and men’s singles player Sameer Verma have been recommended for the Arjuna award by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). The world no. 10 Indian pair are currently the front-runner to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Satwik and Chirag have made rapid strides in international badminton, having won their maiden Super 500 event at Thailand Open and finishing runners-up at the French Open Super 750 tournament last year.
Sameer, the 2016 Hong Kong Open finalist, didn’t have a stellar run last year but he was in sizzling form in 2018, winning three titles to reach a career-best ranking of world no. 11. Besides, the BAI also recommended renowned National Institute of Sports (NIS)-certified coaches – S Murlidharan and Bhaskar Babu – for the Dronacharya Award.
Former Indian coach, Babu has trained the likes of Chetan Anand, Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap at the SAI, Hyderabad Centre. He is now working with young badminton players in Secunderabad.
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