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Rs 25-lakh bait lures wrong fish

india Updated: Sep 24, 2009 01:30 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
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A government scheme to dole out cash to coaches of world class athletes — whatever the medalist gets, the coach gets half — is being subverted by some coaches and officials trying to make false claims on the money.

The National Rifle Associa-tion of India (NRAI) has recommended national coach Sunny Thomas for a Rs 25 lakh-award after Abhinav Bindra got Rs 50 lakh for his Bejing Olympic gold in 2008.

The problem: Thomas has nothing to do with Bindra, who came from outside the government-run NRAI system.

Bindra has never credited Thomas with his win.

When HT asked the Olympian who was responsible for his victory, he said: “There were group coaches, including foreign coaches, who helped me. I also had a physiotherapist and physical trainer who I want to attribute my success to.”

Specifically asked who should receive cash awards, he replied: “Lt Colonel (Retd) J.S. Dhillon, who initiated me into the sport and Dr. Amit Bhattacharya, who is my mental trainer and was with me in all three Olympics and the World Championships I took part in.”

This is the reasoning given by Baljeet Singh Sethi, NRAI secretary-general: Thomas was recommended “as he is the chief national shooting coach”.

“Whenever he gets the cheque, he’ll distribute it among all the coaches involved in Abhinav’s coaching,” said Sethi.

In boxing, the Sports Ministry is in a fix on who should get the award for Vijender Singh’s Olympic bronze.

Unlike Bindra, Vijender did attend the national coaching camp under national coach G.S. Sandhu before Beijing.

The Indian Boxing Federation has recommended Sandhu, but Vijender’s coach was Jagdish Singh of the rural Bhiwani boxing centre. Jagdish has applied for the award too.

No one’s got it yet.