Asian Games gold medallist Jitu Rai has been recommended for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for his exploits in pistol shooting in the last two years although he couldn’t win a medal at the Rio Olympics.

“Yes, we have recommended Jitu’s name for the Khel Ratna award,” National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia said.

NRAI has also recommended woman rifle shooter Apurvi Chandela and men rifle shooters Gurpreet Singh and P.N. Prakash for the Arjuna Awards, according to Bhatia.

The 29-year-old Rai, ranked third in the world in the men’s 10m air pistol, was one of two Indian shooters to make the final of their events in Rio, the other being Abhinav Bindra.

This year Rai has won silver in the 10m air pistol at the ISSF World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan and the gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Bangkok in 50m pistol.

Seven shooters, including Bindra, have so far bagged the Khel Ratna with the last recipient, Ronjan Sodhi, receiving it in 2012-13.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that gymnast Dipa Karmakar is to be recommended for the same award after her stupendous performance in the ongoing Rio Olympics although the deadline for sending in the recommendation to the Sports Ministry is over.

The 23-year-old Tripura-born gymnast became an overnight sensation after she finished fourth in the women’s vault final on August 14, missing the bronze by a mere 0.150 points.

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