Unfazed over the questions raised by critics on whether she deserved this year's Arjuna award, Manika Batra, the multiple gold medalist of 2018 CWG, says her claim for the award was "genuine and based on merit." The table tennis sensation was candid enough to admit that she was a little surprised at being recommended for Arjuna awards this year but was quick to add that her CWG achievements were good enough to win her the top award.
"Yes, I am surprised to get it so early in my career. But I am happy because I deserved it & won it on merit," Manika told Republic TV in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
"I am not bothered about who is saying what. If they chose to ignore my achievements at this year's CWG, then what can I say? I am happy that those who matter (Arjuna Awards Committee) found merit in my performance and I am grateful to them," the CWG champion said.
When asked what would she tell her detractors and critics who felt the award has come a bit too early, she said there were two more in the list who were younger than her. "I will next win a medal at the World Championship & Olympics to claim Khel Ratna award one day."
Ignoring the critics with a smile and strengthening her own's focus is a rare gift or a trademark possessed by only champion sports persons. Merit is not about perception or subjectivity, its a defined measurement of talent in an individual which cannot be challenged, believes Manika Batra, 2018 CWG multiple gold medalist.
Earlier this week, the list for Arjuna award and Khel Ratna was announced. Virat Kohli was third time lucky as most of the Arjuna Awards Committee members found full merit in his nomination for this 2018 Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, along with Mirabai Chanu, who clinched an unprecedented Gold medal in the World Weightlifting Championship.
Neeraj Chopra, winner of Gold medal in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games 2018, Bajrang Punia, who won gold in both CWG and Asian Games and Vinesh Phogat, first Indian woman to win gold in CWG and Asian Games, were also discussed for the Khel Ratna, but the panel felt they still had age and time to get the award.
All the three athletes had won back to back CWG & Asian Games gold medals this year and were also hot favourites but the panel felt that Kohli's achievements in cricket were "distinctly greater" than any other in the fray.