Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli along with world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were both recommended on Monday for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award which is the country's highest sporting honour. Star shuttler Kidambi Srikanth was also in the running for nominations after a solid display through the year, but lost out to the 24-year-old Chanu who is the current world champion in 48kg weightlifting category.
Kohli will become only the third Indian cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and former national team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007) to receive the award, after the sports ministry officially accepts the recommendation.
The Khel Ratna is awarded for "spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports over a period of four years" at the international level.
Kohli, who is currently the worldâ€™s top-ranked Test batsman as per the ICC rankings, has been nominated for the third consecutive year. The 29-year-old currently has 6,147 runs in 71 Tests with 23 centuries and 9,779 runs in 211 ODIs, including 35 tons.
For Chanu, who is currently recovering from a lower back injury, the award comes as a massive morale-booster.
She is the current Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and is pretty much India's only realistic medal hope in weightlifting going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Last year, the Khel Ratna was awarded to former India hockey captain Sardar Singh and para-athlete Devendra Jhajharia.
The Khel Ratna award was instituted in the year 1991-92 and the first recipient of the award was chess grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand. Shooter Abhinav Bindra remains the youngest recipient aged 18.