RIO DE JANEIRO (TIP):Two of India’s 2016 Olympians, gymnast Dipa Karmakar+ and shooter Jitu Rai, have been recommended for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, India’s highest honour in sports.
The Khel Ratna is traditionally awarded to one Indian sportsperson each year. The most recent recipient is Sania Mirza.
It is learnt that Dipa Karmakar’s name was not on the list but her Olympics performance not only vaulted her in the reckoning for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna but may also fetch her coach Biseshwar Nandi a Dronacharya award.
“My daughter couldn’t get an Olympic medal. But we are very happy to know that her name has been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. This is the highest award for a sportsperson. I am sure she will bring home the gold medal for our country at the 2020 Olympics,” Dipa’s father Dulal Karmakar said.
“Biseshwar Nandi’s name for Dronacharya Award was sent to the ministry before the deadline ended and before the commencement of the Olympic Games. After Dipa’s Olympics performance, he should get the award,” PTI reported quoting a source.
At her maiden Olympics – in which she became India’s first gymnast at the Summer Games in 52 years – the 23-year-old Dipa+ qualified for the vault final were she finished fourth with a score of 15.006 – well past her previous best – and missed a bronze medal by just 0.150 points. Dipa was at third place after her second attempt at the Produnova but slipped to fourth after the final contestant, American Simone Biles, put in an outstanding performance to win gold with a score of 15.966.
Dipa had earlier created history by winning bronze in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, becoming the first Indian woman gymnast to win a medal. Later that year she won bronze at the Asian Championships in Hiroshima. In 2015, this daughter of a weightlifting coach won five gold medals at the National Games in Kerala – in individual all-round, table vault, balancing beam, uneven parallel bars and floor exercises and was one of the top medal winners at the event. Later in the year, she won a bronze medal at the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Japan.
Rai+ , ranked third in the world in the men’s 10m air pistol, was one of just two Indian shooters in Rio de Janeiro to make the final of their respective events (the other being Abhinav Bindra, who came within 0.1 of winning a second Olympic medal). Rai, 29, finished eighth out of eighth in the men’s 10m air pistol event, having claimed sixth place with 580 points across six series during the qualification round.
A 2014 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medalist as well as two-time ISSF World Cup medalist, the Nepal-born shooter was viewed as a genuine medal contender at his first Olympic appearance but stumbled in the final. (PTI)