Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: India pacer Ishant Sharma, teen shooting sensations Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker, sprinter Dutee Chand, footballer Sandesh Jhinghan, woman cricketer Deepti Sharma, woman boxer Lovlina Borgohain and Indian luge legend Shiva Keshavan are some of the big names in a 29-strong list of athletes recommended for this year's Arjuna award by the sports ministry's selection committee.

Rower Dattu Bhokannal, boxer Manish Kaushik, wrestler Rahul Aware, recurve archer Atanu Das, women's hockey team player Deepika Thakur, kabaddi player Deepak Hooda, tennis player Divij Sharan, woman paddler Madhurima Patkar and badminton men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

The 31-year-old Ishant has played 97 Tests and 80 ODIs for India, grabbing over 400 international wickets.

The committee has recommended five athletes this year for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award -- star Indian batsman Rohit Sharma, decorated wrestler Vinesh Phogat, Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal, table tennis star Manika Batra and Rio Paralympics gold medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu.

This is the first time in the history of awards that five athletes have been recommended for the top sporting accolade with the final decision resting on sports minister Kiren Rijiju.

In 2016, four athletes -- star shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai, and wrestler Sakshi Malik -- were collectively given this award.

The 33-year-old Rohit will only be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, just-retired Mahendra Singh Dhoni and current skipper Virat Kohli to be conferred with the Khel Ratna.

Tendulkar was the first Indian cricketer to get the honour in 1998, followed by Dhoni in 2007 and Kohli in 2018. Kohli won it jointly with weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.

The committee, comprising the likes of Virender Sehwag and former hockey captain Sardar Singh, met at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) headquarters here and finalised the names after deliberations that took up the first half of the day.


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