Wrestler Bajrang Punia Dejected Over Selection Criteria For Khel Ratna Award

| September 21 , 2018 , 16:55 IST

Indian star wrestler Bajrang Punia felt disappointed over the denial of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the Indian wrestler revealed on Thursday that he was "hurt" and questioned the selection criteria for the country's highest sporting honour.

Despite a clinical performance and having won gold medals in the Asian Games at Jakarta and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, his name did not featured in the final list of nominees.

while Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli obtained zero points and reigning world champion weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu earned 44 points in process of being named for this year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna by the 11-member selection panel.

Bajrang's list of achievements isn't limited to only 1 season, earlier he had won a World Championship bronze medal in 2013 and a silver medal in 2014.

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Speaking to media, Indian star Bajrang Punia said, "I'm hurt for not being recognised for my talent and performances, I don't know what was the criteria of selection for this award."

The 24-year-old wrestler also said, "I tried calling Rathore sir's number (Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore), but he didn't even reply back. I'm going to meet him in person to enquire about the matter."

"Now my hopes are pinned on Rathore as I believe I am one of the eligible candidates for the award. Anyone can see my record. I have performed consistently for my country. I don't know what else is there to be done," Bajrang added.

"And if I don't get justice from the sports minister, I will be left with no other option than taking the legal route," he cautioned.

"The World Championship is scheduled to begin next month, and I'm preparing to make my country and people, proud, yet again.

"But such treatment of athletes by the ministry shows their ignorance towards rewarding top-notch athletes, and keeping their morale high for the future," he said.

Speaking on other nominees, who include Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, the Haryana grappler said, "I'm not against any other athlete winning the award."

"On the contrary, I'd like to congratulate them for their achievements. But the selection process must be made transparent," the Indian wrestler said.