New Delhi, Jul 20: Four-time world champion woman boxer, MC Mary Kom, Naga indigenous woman, is all set to get the India's highest sporting honour—the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna—after getting the award selection committee's unanimous vote.
“The committee has unanimously voted for Mary Kom and the recommendation has been sent to the Sports Ministry which will ratify it soon,” a top official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The official said the name of Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh was also discussed but the committee ultimately decided on Mary Kom.
“Vijender and wrestling's Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar did come up for discussion but Mary Kom got the vote ultimately,” the official revealed.
The 25-year-old mother of two from Manipur has won medals at all the five world championships held so far, including an unprecedented fourth successive gold in the event's last edition in China last year.
Apart from Mary Kom, another woman Indian boxer from Manipur L Sarita Devi (52kg), who was a silver medallist at last year's World Championships, has been picked for the Arjuna award for 2008, the official revealed.
"Besides, assistant National boxing coach Jaidev Bisht, who accompanied the team to Beijing Olympics has been selected for the Dronacharya award,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) is learnt to have recommended the names of opener Gautam Gambhir and women's team captain Jhulan Goswmai for the Arjuna Award.
Among the other sports-persons recommended for the Arjuna awards were Indian football team's defen- ders Mahesh Gawli and Deepak Mondal and mid-fielder Climax Lawrence.
Former women's Asian chess champion Tanya Sachdev and the prodigal Parimarjan Negi's names were also sent for the award.
Double trap shooter Ranjan Sodhi, who missed the Olympic qualification despite a world record to his name, was among the three marksmen who were recommended for the Arjuna awards.
In athletics, discus thro-wer Krishna Poonia and 800 m runner Sinimole Paulose were the names sent to the awards committee by their federation.
The Khel Ratna, Arjuna awards and Dhyanchand awards committees are headed by former table tennis national champion Indu Puri, while the panel for Drona-charya awards is headed by GS Randhawa. PTI
When The Sangai Express contacted Mary Kom this evening, the ace boxer said that she had expected to be conferred the Khel Ratna last year itself.
An obviously ecstatic Mary Kom, however, said that she was so disillusioned at being overlooked last year that she had decided that if she did not make it this time, she would not apply for the award again.
The world champ added that she had even contemplated retiring from the game altogether.
“Having won the World Championship for four consecutive times,” I thought I deserved it, she added.
The ace boxing champion credited Union Sports Minister SS Gill for encouraging her to carry on, when the odds were down and she was overlooked for the award last year.
Mary Kom also gave due credit to all her former coaches and instructors as well as to God, for enabling her to carry on without any illness, even after becoming a mother of two children.
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