Rio Olympic and Paralympic medallists got cash awards on Monday, under the sports ministry’s scheme of felicitating medal winners in international events, but cash awards to coaches were put on hold after two medal winners filed affidavits that had new names as their coaches.
Rio bronze medallist Sakshi Malik mentioned Mandeep as her coach, while silver medallist in the Paralympic Games Deepa Malik said in her affidavit that husband, Vikram, was her personal coach.
The other winners mentioned coaches who are the rightful winners. PV Sindhu named national coach Pullela Gopichand, Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati said Satyanarayan was their coach and Devendra Jhajharia mentioned Sunil Tanwar as his coach.
Under the scheme, gold medal winners are given Rs 75 lakh, silver medallists Rs 50 lakh and bronze medal winners Rs 30 lakh. Their coaches are supposed to get half the sum as cash prize. But as per rule, coaches have to show documentary proof that an athlete has trained 240 days under them to claim the award.
Sources in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) suggest that Kuldeep Malik is the actual coach of Sakshi, while Vaibhav Sirohi and Naresh Choudhary trained Deepa. Fearing controversy, the coaches’ award was put on hold pending an enquiry on Sakshi and Deepa’s claims.
“My coaching was done by my husband. He has taken a sabbatical from his job. He is the one who studied the loopholes in my technique – through Internet – and put his sports knowledge to use,” Deepa told HT on the sidelines of the ceremony.
“I also have a fitness trainer but I’ll give maximum credit to my husband,” she added.
Sakshi, who is in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, could not be reached. But mother, Sudesh, confirmed that Mandeep was her coach for the past year. “Mandeep has been coaching her and we have recommended his name,” she said.
Sakshi’s father, Sukhbir, collected her cheque. PV Sindhu missed the ceremony.