NEW DELHI: Out of all the names received by the Arjuna Awards selection panel, there was one that should've caught the attention of the men and women deciding the list of national sporting honour, but unfortunately did not.
For a man who has many firsts to his name, Kakarla Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan has surprisingly once again missed the Arjuna bus. Karthikeyan's resume is as impressive as they come. He is only Indian to have driven in Formula One, to win races in A1GP, Formula Three and to have participated in the popular Le Mans series.
In earlier years, the factionalism within the Indian motorsports community was the main reason why motorsports was never given priority. But that obstacle is no longer the reason.
The Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI) is recognized as India's official ASN by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and also by the Indian government. Moreover, FMSCI has been affiliated to the International Olympic Association (IOA) since 2005.
This year, FMSCI sent three names - Karthikeyan, GP2 driver Karun Chandhok and biker Dilip Roggers - but according to sources on the panel, these names did not even come up for discussion.
"We did what was required of us. We sent the dockets with all the information that was needed, though Narain's list of achievements was received a couple of days late. It was upto the panel to recommend the names. I think the profile and image of the sport works against it. It's not an Olympic sport and it's not cricket. I can only hope that the government takes our sport seriously in the future," told Rajan Syal, chief executive, FMSCI.
Karthikeyan, who is training in Austria currently to set his dislocated shoulder right, was rightly disappointed and at a loss to explain the miss. "A lot of people think that I've already got the award but it's just disappointing to not get it this year again. Getting a national award, the recognition from your own country, is so important for an athlete, for a sportsperson. I've been at the forefront of my sport for years. Hopefully, next year they will consider me worthy of the award," he said.
May be, next year sports minister MS Gill would like to set the wrong right.