Sports: Shooter Sodhi wins India's top sports award, thrower's claim rejected

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Former world champion shooter Ronjan Sodhi has been named the winner of India's highest sports award after the government ignored the claims of a disgruntled discus thrower.

Sodhi, a double-trap world record holder in 2010 and 2011, was nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (sports jewel) award by the sports ministry's selection committee last week.

But the ministry delayed the official announcement after woman discus thrower Krishna Poonia, a gold medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, publicly staked a claim for the award.

Poonia met Sports Minister Jitendra Singh and other officials to put forward her case, but the ministry rejected her claim after consulting the selection committee.

"The file has been cleared by the sports minister and there has been no addition to the original list of awardees," sports secretary P.K. Deb told reporters in New Delhi.

"We have stuck to the recommendations made by the committee. We looked into all the complaints and grievances of some athletes and that's why the announcement was delayed."

Sodhi, 33, said he was delighted to win the award, named after the assassinated former prime minister, which carries a medal, citation and cash prize of 750,000 rupees (S$14,800).

Poonia said she accepted the government's decision. "Our fight was for justice and not against any individual," she told the Times of India.

Past winners of the award include cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, badminton star Saina Nehwal, tennis player Leander Paes and reigning world chess champion Viswanathan Anand.

Cricketer Virat Kohli and world women's badminton semi-finalist P.V. Sindhu were among 15 recipients of the annual Arjuna award, the country's second-highest sporting honour.

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