Calcutta/ New Delhi: Trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi, the first Indian to win two back-to-back World Cup gold medals, was on Wednesday recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, while cricketer Virat Kohli and rising badminton player PV Sindhu were among the 14 sportspersons picked for the Arjuna Award by the selection committee, here.
Sindhu became the first Indian woman shuttler to clinch a bronze medal at the recently concluded World Championships.
Apart from Sindhu, triple-jumper Renjith Maheshwary, who won a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games with a national record, and rising golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar were among the sportspersons picked for the Arjuna Award this year by the selection committee headed by billiards legend Michael Ferreira.
Sodhi, who had a disastrous outing at the London Olympics last year, is a former world No. 1.
The recommendation of Sodhi sparked off a controversy with some members of the selection panel raising questions about the process of his selection. It is learnt that Sodhi's name was not there when the majority of members decided to vote for the Khel Ratna awardee but brought back later for consideration.
A selection panel member said Commonwealth Games gold-medallist discus thrower Krishna Poonia and London Paralympics silver medallist H N Girisha were shortlisted for voting by 11 out of 12 selection panel members and Sodhi's name was not considered initially.
He said the scenario changed after one member, a former shooter, came in late for the meeting and Girisha's name was removed and there was voting between Sodhi and Poonia.
This year’s Arjuna awardees’ list features just one boxer, World Championship bronze medallist Kavita Chahal.
In golf, SSP Chowrasia was once again overlooked as the award went to Gaganjeet Bhullar. Chowrasia, one of the few golfers in the country to have won two titles on the European Tour, Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri were in contention .
Chowrasia, who has been waiting for his moment under the sun for quite a long time, was expected to have gotten lucky this year.
The Arjuna list also includes squash player Joshna Chinappa, former hockey captain Saba Anjum, paddler Mouma Das, wrestler Neha Rathi and shooter Rajkumari Rathore recommended for the award.