khel ratna

Gold medalist Heena Sidhu of India poses during the medal ceremony for the women's 25m pistol during Shooting on day six of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Belmont Shooting Centre on April 10, 2018 at Brisbane, Australia. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — The National Rifle Association of India has recommended the names of Heena Sidhu and Ankur Mittal for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

Asian Games bronze medalist Heena, in 2013, became the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup finals when she won the 10m Air Pistol event.

The 29-year-old has also won a silver medal in the women's 10m Air Pistol event, and a gold medal in the women's 25m Air Pistol event. In 2014, she was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award.

Ankur, on the other hand, had won a gold medal in Double Trap event at 2018 ISSF World Shooting Championships at Changwon, South Korea. He also won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships.

In the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, he won a bronze medal in the Double Trap Shooting (Men) event. Last year, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award.

Earlier, shooters Abhinav Bindra, Anjali Bhagwat, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang, Ronjan Sodhi and Jitu Rai had been conferred with the prestigious Khel Ratna Award.

Besides, the NRAI has also recommended the names of Anjum Moudgil, Shahzar Rizvi and Om Prakash Mitharwal for the Arjuna Award while Jaspal Rana and Ronak Pandit have been recommended for the Dronacharya Award.

In related news, The Wrestling Federation of India has recommended the names of Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

Current number one wrestler Punia recently stamped his authority on Asia after he won the Asian Wrestling Championships in Xi'an, China. Punia had last year won the gold medal in the 65-kg freestyle wrestling event at the Asian Games held in Jakarta. He defeated Japanese wrestler Takatani Daichi 11-8. Before that, he had also won the gold medal in the same category at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He overcame Kane Charig of Wales by Technical Superiority to clinch the gold.

On the other hand, Vinesh became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in both Commonwealth and Asian games.

At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Vinesh won gold in women's freestyle 50-kg event by defeating Canada's Jessica MacDonald. In the 2018 Asian Games, she created history as she became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold in the games by beating Japan's Yuki Irie in women's 50-kg freestyle wrestling gold medal match.

She also became the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards held in February 2019.

Apart from Vinesh and Bajrang, the WFI has recommended Rahul Aware, Harpreet Singh, Divya Kakran and Pooja Dhanda for the Arjuna Award while Virender Kumar, Sujeet Maan, Narendra Kumar and Vikram Kumar have been recommended for Dronacharya Award. Bheem Singh and Jai Prakash have been recommended for the Dhyan Chand Award.

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