Krishna Poonia fails to meet Sports Minister

New Delhi: Disappointed at being ignored for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, top woman discus thrower Krishna Poonia today went to see Sports Minister Jitendra Singh to express her displeasure over the issue but failed to meet him.

"Yes, I had gone to see the Sports Minister today and waited for him the entire day, but unfortunately could not meet him," Poonia told PTI.

Poonia first visited the Sports Ministry but since Singh was not available there, she went to the Defence Ministry but to no avail.

The recommendation of shooter Ronjan Sodhi for the Khel Ratna Award yesterday sparked off a controversy with some members of the selection panel raising questions about the process of his selection.

It was 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 that 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.

Poonia, who has also submitted a letter to the Sports Ministry, said she was ready to share the honour with Sodhi.

"I have no issue if Ronjan Sodhi is recommended for Khel Ratna but I should also be considered for the award. There were earlier instances where the award was given to more than one person. In any case, I am more deserving than him," said the Commonwealth Games gold-medallist.

"I am ready to share the award with Sodhi," she added.

Poonia also criticised the procedure that was followed at the selection committee meeting yesterday.

"Injustice has been done to me yesterday because the selection panel had already voted for my recommendation with a 8-3 verdict in my favour in the contest with H N Girisha, and the committee members had already started discussions for Arjuna awardees. "Then how can a person walk in and suddenly bring back back another sportsperson`s name who was already out of contention?," asked Poonia.

A member of the selection panel had said that decision to bring Sodhi`s name back into contention was taken 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.

Meanwhile, two-time Olympic medal winning wrestler Sushil Kumar also threw his weight behind Poonia, saying that the "government should confer the Khel Ratna award on two of our best athletes, Poonia and Sodhi".

Sushil Kumar, incidentally had also gone to the Sports Ministry today to meet with the Sports Secretary.


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