New Delhi, June 4: Rashid Khan, Aditi Ashok and Diksha Dagar have been recommended for the Arjuna Awards for 2020. Rashid is the 2019 India No. 1, and the top ranked Indian who also won a team silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games. Aditi, who represented India at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is the only Indian to be currently playing on the Ladies PGA Tour in the US, and has three wins on Ladies European Tour, while Diksha Dagar, winner of the silver medal in 2017 Deaflympics, won the Women’s South African Open, and was a sure shot qualifier for Tokyo Olympics this year before it got postponed.
The names were sent in by the Indian Golf Union, well ahead of the deadline. The IGU is the body that recommends names, though the professional bodies, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) often send their recommendations to IGU. This year all nominations were sent on e-mail.
As for Rashid, Aditi and Diksha, if it was not for Covid-19, there was a strong likelihood of all three making it to the Tokyo Olympic squad this year.
Rashid missed an individual bronze medal by one shot, but helped the Indian team to win a team silver in Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. Rashid, the highest ranked Indian in Asia at 10this also the top Indian in the world at 185th. He won two titles on the Asian Tour in 2014, and has triumphed eight times on the domestic Tour. He has also been India No. 1 on domestic PGTI Tour on three different occasions, including 2019 season. In recent months, he had a string of Top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour, before Covid-19 halted play. Rashid was happy at being nominated but is keeping quiet.
Aditi Ashok, who represented India at the 2016 Olympics in her rookie year, has won three times on the Ladies European Tour, and now plays on the Ladies PGA, the most competitive and biggest golf Tour for women in the world.
Diksha Dagar, 19, is a silver medallist at the 2017 Deaflympics in Turkey is a an emerging talent. She represented India at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, before turning professional in 2019. Just like Aditi, Diksha also won on the Ladies European Tour in her rookie year in 2019 when she won the Women’s South African Open. She became the youngest Indian to do so.
Seventeen Indian golfers have received the Arjuna Award, of which only three are women. The last lady golfer given the honour was Nonita Lall in 1987. The other two women recipients are Anjali Desai (1972) and Sita Rawlley (1977).
The first five of the 14 men winners were all amateurs starting from the late Billoo Sethi (1961) to Ashok Malik (1963), RK Pitamber (1967), Vikramjit Singh (1973) and Lakshman Singh (1982).
The first Indian professional to get the award was Ali Sher in 1991 and that was followed by Jeev Milkha Singh in 1999.
Shiv Kapur was still an amateur in 2002, but his gold medal in 2002 Asian Games, got him the award.
The next six Jyoti Randhawa (2004), Arjun Atwal (2007), Gaganjeet Bhullar (2013), Anirban Lahiri (2014), SSP Chawrasia (2017) and Shubhankar Sharma (2018) were all professionals.