Prominent Olympians and Arjun awardees were of the view that Poonia should also be recommended for the country's top sporting award, along with double trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi whose name has already been recommended by a selection panel under controversial circumstances.
"Poonia is a deserving candidate and she has won Commonwealth Games gold and a sixth-place finish in London Olympics. It was no mean achievement. The whole wrestling community is behind her and we would like to urge the sports minister to reconsider the selection panel's decision," Yogeshwar said.
"My suggestion is that Poonia should be conferred the award along with Sodhi as was the case in 2009 when Sushil Kumar, Mary Kom and Vijender Singh had got the award. She is the first Indian woman athlete to win gold in Commonwealth Games (in 2010 in New Delhi)," the London Olympics bronze medallist wrestler added.
Yogeshwar's fellow grappler and two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar had also thrown his weight behind Poonia.
"The government should jointly confer the Khel Ratna award to two of our best athletes — Poonia and Sodhi. Both deserve the highest honour. Both are best in their respective field," Sushil had said a few days back.
The recommendation of Sodhi for Khel Ratna had sparked off a controversy with some members of the selection panel questioning the process of his selection. It was learnt that Sodhi's name was not there when the majority of members decided to vote for the Khel Ratna awardee but brought back later for consideration.


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