Mirabai Chanu, who won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2018, has been nominated for the Arjuna Award by the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) for 2020/21. Ragala Venkat Rahul and Punam Yadav are the other two nominations sent by the IWLF to the Sports Ministry.
25-year-old Mirabai had applied for both the Arjuna and the Khel Ratna in 2018. The Khel Ratna is the highest sporting honour in the country. She and Indian men's cricket captain Virat Kohli had won the award in 2018. She was also awarded the Padma Shri that year. The twin honour came after she won the 2017 weightlifting World Championships.
"It is possible," IWLF Secretary General Sahadev Yadav told IANS when asked about nominating an athlete who has won a Khel Ratna for an Arjuna Award. "We felt she is one of the deserving candidates so we sent across her name."
Mirabai recovered from a back injury that hampered her progress in 2018 and missed out on a medal at the 2019 Asian Championships by the barest of margins. She went on to breach the 200kg mark at the subsequent world championships, lifting 87kg in snatch and 114kg in clean and jerk for a total of 201kg.
Rahul won two Commonwealth Championships gold medal and also won gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Punam also won at the 2018 CWG and has won a silver at the Commonwealth Championships.
The Sports Ministry had on May 5 invited nominations for the 2020 National Sports Awards including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the Arjuna Award. The ministry has asked for nominations to be sent via e-mail in view of the coronavirus situation.