After former All England badminton champion Pullela Gopichand, wrestling coach Satpal on Tuesday was the latest victim of sports minister M.S. Gill's ignorance.
Satpal, an Asian Games gold medallist and coach of world champion wrestler Sushil Kumar, was snubbed by Gill at his residence in the morning when the minister asked him to step aside during the photo opportunity with Sushil, who called on Gill after returning from Moscow on Tuesday.
The embarrassing moment left both Sushil and Droncharya awardee Satpal shocked. “Satpal has been my coach for the past 13-14 years. He is coach to over 900 kids. If a coach is insulted then his pupil also feels insulted,” Sushil said later.
During the photo opportunity, Gill started looking for the coach to stand beside them and when Satpal stepped in, Gill told him to step aside and called only Yashvir, who was the team coach during the World Championship in Moscow.
“I want the coach who went to Moscow with him,” said Gill.
Gill, who announced a cash award of R 10 lakh for the grappler, later requested Satpal to join them, but he was hurt.
“I did not like it. But this is a happy occasion, so let's talk about Sushil's achievement,” Satpal said. Sushil credited his success to Satpal and said, “I’ve a lot of respect for him. He has trained me since childhood.”
In 2008, Gopichand had a similar experience when he came to meet Gill along with Saina Nehwal after the Olympics, where the latter reached the quarters. Gill, unsure of Gopichand's credentials, had asked the All England Champion “who are you”.
Sushil returns home to hero's welcome
Meanwhile, Sushil Kumar came home to a hero's welcome early on Tuesday with fans and junior grapplers turning up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The 27-year-old was flanked by coach Satpal and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) secretary general Kartar Singh.
“I worked hard under my coach Satpal for the last one year and am happy that I have done it. I had no tension before the final as I was well prepared for it. I fought the bout with a free mind and without any tension,” said Sushil.
“I have reached this stage because of my coach. My main focus is now the Commonwealth Games,” he said.