R Ashwin India
R Ashwin is set to be conferred with the prestigious Arjuna awardReuters

Fifteen athletes, including cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin and ace shooter Heena Sidhu, have been recommended for the Arjuna Award, while no sportsperson will receive the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award this year.

The 12-member selection committee, including the likes of Kunjarani Devi, Anju Bobby George and Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson, was headed by former India skipper Kapil Dev.

For the Khel Ratna Award, Kapil suggested the name of golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and a lengthy discussion was held over his name, but eventually the members decided not to confer the award to anyone.

"The selection panel examined the seven names placed before them for the consideration of Khel Ratna but none of them were deserving enough to get the nod," a selection panel member told to PTI.

"We discussed each and every seven names for the Khel Ratna Award," he added. "The longest discussion was in case of golfer Jeev Milkha Singh after Kapil mentioned his name but ultimately the panel decided against his name."

According to reports, the name of tennis player Somdev Devvarman was also in the seven-player list that was discussed for the prestigious award but some members felt that he has not done well in the last three years.

Somdev received the Arjuna Award in 2011 for his promising performance in the ATP circuit, 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 Asiad but since then his form has dipped, although he performed quite well in India's Davis Cup ties.

Meanwhile, Ashwin in the only cricketer who has been recommended for the Arjuna Award for his performance as India's leading spinner. The number one Test all-rounder also played a crucial role in India's 2011 World Cup triumph.

Sidhu was awarded for her consistent showing on the international stage, as she is the first pistol shooter to be ranked number one by ISSF. She won gold in the 10m air pistol in the 2013 ISSF World Cup and gold in 2010 Commonwealth Games' pairs event.

Basketball player Geethu Anna Jose will also be conferred with the Arjuna Award for her impressive performances with the national team. Geethu is the first Indian cager to have played in a foreign league and also won trials with WNBA teams Chicago Sky, San Antonio Silver Stars and Los Angeles Sparks.

Players Recommended for Arjuna Award: Ravichandran Ashwin (cricket), Akhilesh Varma (archery), Tintu Luka (athletics), H N Girisha (paralympics), V Diju (badminton), Geetu Ann Jose (basketball), Jai Bhagwan (boxing), Anirban Lahiri (golf), Mamta Pujari (kabaddi), Saji Thomas (rowing), Heena Sidhu (shooting), Anaka Alankamony (squash), Tom Joseph (volleyball), Renubala Chanu (weightlifting) and Sunil Rana (wrestling).

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