New Delhi, May 14: The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) recommended rifle ace Anjum Moudgil for the Khel Ratna which is the country’s highest sporting honor while Jaspal Rana for the Dronacharya Award consecutively for the second year.
Even for Arjuna Award, the NRAI has picked up champion pistol shooters Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma for the prestigious Arjuna Award, according to the reports.
“Anjum Moudgil has been nominated for Khel Ratna while the NRAI has again sent Jaspal's name for Dronacharya. They have always believed that he deserves it and are hoping he gets it this time. Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma have been recommended for Arjuna,” an official from the federation quoted.
However, when an NRAI official was contacted said they are in the process of finalizing the names.
Starting shooting in 2008, the 26-year-old Moudgil, is among the first two Indians to book berths in the Tokyo Olympics. She was the first Indian athlete to make the cut by taking a silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Changwon, South Korea, the first qualification event for the Olympics.
Moudgil after pairing up with Divyansh Singh Panwar clinched the 10m Air Rifle mixed team gold medal in the ISSF World Cup in Munich and Beijing. She also reached the final in the 10m Air Rifle event in the ISSF World Cup in Munich and Rio de Janeiro.
Last December, Moudgil won the title in the women's 50m 3P event at the 63rd National Shooting Championship in Bhopal. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award hands out a medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
Following the last year when Rana was excluded, it blew up into a big controversy. India's only individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra criticized the selection panel for not finalizing the seasoned coach for the Dronacharya Award.
The 43-year-old Rana who is a multiple Asian Games gold-medallist has been successful in grooming young players like Manu Bhaker, Saurabh, and Anish Bhanwala into top-class shooters.
Dronacharya awards are given to honor eminent coaches who have successfully trained sportspersons or teams and enabled them to achieve outstanding results in international competitions. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
On the other hand, the 30-year-old Verma, an engineer-turned-lawyer-turned-shooter secured India”s fifth Olympic quota place in the sport after he won the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing last April.
Two months before that, unfazed by a field comprising some seasoned campaigners, teenager Chaudhary smashed the world record to win gold in the season”s first World Cup and the country's third quota.
At the beginning of this year, Chaudhary showed his talent when he won gold in the 10m air pistol gold at the Bhopal Nationals, where Verma bagged bronze.
Verma has now two World Cup gold medals, an Asian Games bronze, and an Olympic quota place. However, another emerging player has been Chaudhary as the 16-year-old grabbed the gold medals at the other two World Cups in New Delhi and Munich.