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New Delhi: Putting an end to speculations, the sports ministry on Thursday stuck to the original list of Arjuna awards winners, thereby dashing boxer Manoj Kumar's hopes of getting the sporting honour.
The controversial recommendation of boxer Jai Bhagwan for the prestigious Arjuna Award has been finalised after the Kapil Dev-led selection committee, which met again on Wednesday, decided not to make any changes in the original 15-athlete list.
Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general Jiji Thomson,who was part of the committee, had said the panel discussed seven athletes in the review meeting but it was unanimously agreed that no changes were needed.
The sports ministry subsequently approved the names of all the athletes recommended by the panel for the ceremony to be held on August 29 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The controversy started after the selection committee, which originally met on August 12, choose Bhagwan over 2010 Commonwealth gold medallist boxer Manoj. It forced the committee to meet again and reconsider its decision.
Apart from Bhagwan, 20-year-old squash player Anaka Alankamony's inclusion in the list had also raised eyebrows, while Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra went to the extent of slamming the panel for overlooking seven of its recommended players.
Thomson said Manoj's application was not considered earlier owing to a case of mistaken identity and the committee discussed him in the review meeting. However, the committee thought Bhagwan was also a deserving candidate and therefore stuck to its stance.
Manoj, with 32 points, had maximum points amongst the boxers who applied for the honour and two more than Delhi CWG bronze medalist Bhagwan.