New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Ace doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and singles star Sameer Verma have been recommended by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) for the Arjuna Award. Meanwhile, Bhaskar Babu, who is credited with coaching the likes of Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap in their formative years, and S. Murlidharan have been recommended for the Dronacharya award, the BAI said in a statement on Tuesday.
Rankireddy and Chirag have put together a string of consistent performances over the past two years to more or less guarantee themselves a spot in the postponed Tokyo Olympics. They won the Thailand Open last year and later managed a runners-up finish at the French Open and reached the semi-final of the China Open Super 750.
Sameer won three titles and ascended to a career-high No. 11 in the world in 2018. His series of good performances earned him a place among the best-eight at the BWF World Tour Finals 2018, where he progressed to the semi-finals on debut.
"The architect of the success stories of Indian badminton has been our coaches of whom renowned National Institute of Sports (NIS)-certified coaches, S. Murlidharan and Bhaskar Babu have been selected for the Dronacharya Award. Both have tirelessly put in efforts to shape champions," said BAI.
Two-time Asian Games bronze medallist Pradeep Gandhe and South Asian Games silver medallist and CWG Team bronze medallist Manjusha Kanwar have been recommended for the Dhyanchand Award.
The Sports Ministry on May 5 invited nominations for the 2020 National Sports Awards including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the Arjuna Award. The ministry had asked for nominations to be sent via e-mail in view of the coronavirus situation.
The process, which usually starts in April, has been delayed due to the pandemic. "Due to lockdown on account of the outbreak of COVID-19, hard copies of nominations are not required to be sent. Scanned copies of the nominations duly signed by the applicant/recommending authority may be sent at above mentioned email ids, before last date of submission," said the ministry in its circular.
The ministry gave a deadline of June 3 for National Sports Federations to file their recommendations.