‘Why Can’t I Win Both?’: Sakshi Malik Questions Arjuna Award Snub

Sakshi Malik has questioned why she’s not being given the Arjuna award just because she has won the Khel Ratna.

Olympic Sports
2 min read

Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik has expressed her displeasure at being left out of this year’s Arjuna awards list.

“I had applied for the Arjuna award and I am eligible to win it as well but the reason being given is that I have won the Khel Ratna before so I can no more be given the Arjuna. This just makes me feel like no matter what I do and however many medals I win, I cannot win the Arjuna anymore,” Sakshi Malik said to The Quint.

Sakshi had raised the point when the 27-strong Arjuna Awards list was announced some days back, even tweeting her grievance to the prime minister and sports minister.

She is the only individual Olympic medallist from India to have not won an Arjuna, the second-highest sporting honour in the country, after the Khel Ratna.

Sakshi Malik is a bronze medallist from the 2014 Olympics.
Sakshi Malik is a bronze medallist from the 2014 Olympics.
(Photo: Twitter)

The Justice (retd) Mukundakam Sharma-led selection committee had recommended 29 names for the Arjuna award to the Sports Ministry. The list included Sakshi and 2017 weightlifting world champion Mirabai Chanu, but the decision of bestowing the Arjuna on them was left to the discretion of the Sports Ministry.

The Ministry decided against bestowing the Arjuna on Sakshi and Mirabai as the two have already been conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

“Every award has its own meaning. When I started wrestling, everyone used to talk about Arjuna awardees and it was my dream that I would win one as well. An athlete works hard so they can win all awards and I am no different. What if I have won the Khel Ratna, does the Arjuna not have any value? If that is so then whoever has won both, take the Arjuna back from them,” Sakshi tells The Quint.

One of the reasons the Arjuna award has an added relevance for athletes is that it comes with certain benefits like cash rewards and an increased pension, something that the Khel Ratna, an award that was introduced in 1992, does not help them avail.

“This simply means from now on, in my wrestling career, no matter what I win – even if it’s an Olympic medal – I will not be bestowed with the honour of an Arjuna award. Is that how I should think?” asks Sakshi, India’s only female wrestler to win an Olympic medal.

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