The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anjali hits out at Arjuna committee
- Khel ratna - ‘Last year too I was recommended for the award but it went to Abhinav’

New Delhi: Ace shooter Anjali Bhagwat on Sunday slammed the Arjuna awards committee for nominating athlete K.M. Beenamol for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award ahead of her.

She said the decision showed performance was not the lone criterion for the award.

“I had a wonderful 2002. I was ranked No. 1 in the world and bagged four Commonwealth gold medals, a silver in the World Cup and in the Asian Games. If this performance is not enough then I cannot say (what determines the winner),” Anjali said.

Anjali said she was disappointed initially but now she had realised that winning the Khel Ratna was not her “ultimate goal”.

“I am getting used to such disappointments,” said Anjali, the only woman shooter to have qualified for the Athens Olympics. Last year too I was recommended for the Khel Ratna by my association. But the award went to (shooter) Abhinav Bindra who made an individual application.

“They (the Bindras) are rich and influential people. No one has the guts to speak against them,” the firebrand shooter charged.

Asked if her preparations for the Olympics will be affected by this controversy, Anjali said: “I am not bothered. I do not give importance to petty things.”

On reports that the committee had decided to award Beenamol because Anjali could always bag the honour next year, she said: “I don’t know. Maybe another Beenamol will crop up next year.”

Beenamol won a gold each in 800m, 400m relay and the 400m silver in the Busan Asian Games last year.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) also said it was “disappointed” with the committee for ignoring the achievements of Anjali.

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