The NRAI has sent the names of champion pistol shooters Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma for the prestigious Arjuna Award, according to federation sources.
“Anjum Moudgil has been nominated for Khel Ratna while the NRAI has again send Jaspal’s name for Dronacharya. They have always believed that he deserves it and are hoping he gets it this time,” a federation source told PTI.
“Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma have been recommended for Arjuna,” he added.
When contacted, a top NRAI official though was not forthcoming, only saying they are in the process of finalising the names.
The 26-year-old Moudgil, who started shooting in 2008, is among the first two Indians to have secured quota places in the sport for the Tokyo Olympics.
The shooter from Chandigarh earned the quota in the 10m Air Rifle event when she won the silver medal in the ISSF World Cup in Korea in 2008.
Last year, Moudgil paired up with Divyansh Singh Panwar to claim the 10m Air Rifle mixed team gold medal in the ISSF World Cup in Munich and Beijing.
She also reached the final in the 10m Air Rifle event in the ISSF World Cup in Munich and Rio de Janeiro.
Last December, Moudgil won the title in the women’s 50m 3P event at the 63rd National Shooting Championship in Bhopal.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.
Rana’s exclusion last year snowballed into a big controversy after India’s only individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra criticised the selection panel for not finalising the seasoned coach for the Dronacharya Award.
The 43-year-old Rana, a multiple Asian Games gold-medallist marksman, is credited to have groomed the likes of teen sensations Manu Bhaker, Saurabh and Anish Bhanwala into world-class shooters.
Ignored last time despite being the man behind the young shooters’ smashing success in recent years, Rana is hoping that the selection is “fair” and the most deserving candidate is recognised.
Dronacharya awards are given to honour eminent coaches who have successfully trained sportspersons or teams and enabled them to achieve outstanding results in international competitions.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
The 30-year-old Verma, an engineer-turned-lawyer-turned-shooter secured India’s fifth Olympic quota place in the sport, winning the 10m air pistol gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing last April.
Two months before that, unfazed by a field comprising some seasoned campaigners, teenager Chaudhary smashed the world record to win gold in the season’s first World Cup and the country’s third quota.
In the beginning of this year, Chaudhary stamped his class again to win the 10m air pistol gold at the Bhopal Nationals, where Verma bagged bronze.
Verma now boasts of two World Cup gold medals, an Asian Games bronze, and an Olympic quota place.
Through this year, he also developed a great rivalry with Chaudhary as the 16-year-old grabbed the gold medals at the other two World Cups in New Delhi and Munich.