Indian athletic great Gurbachan Singh Randhawa has questioned the sports ministry’s panel for nominating Kerala’s KP Thomas, a physical education teacher, for this year’s Dronacharya award. However, the finger is being pointed at Randhawa himself for being in the race for the award for coaching excellence.
The person questioning Randhawa’s coaching credentials is none other than former Asian Games champion, Vijay Singh Chauhan.
Randhawa, in his application for the award, has mentioned that he had trained Chauhan, winner of the decathlon title at the 1974 Asiad in Tehran. Chauhan was also declared the Iron Man of Asia.
Randhawa told the Hindustan Times on Monday that not just Chauhan, there was an endless list of athletes whom he had coached. “All the hurdlers who represented the country in the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games were my trainees,” he said.
Chauhan not only rejected Randhawa’s claim, he also accused the 1964 Tokyo Olympics 110m hurdles finalist of being having discouraged him. When contacted by HT over phone in Lucknow, Chauhan said, Randhawa was never his coach. In fact, Chauhan added, “he (Randhawa) had always discouraged me from competing in decathlon so that his record remains intact.”
Chauhan was a dominant force in the ten-event competition in India in the early 1970’s.
After winning the title in the first Asian Track and Field (now Asian championships) competition in 1973, he went on to win gold with a national record at the Tehran Asian Games. He had also represented the country in the Munich Olympics.
And for all his achievements in a decade long career, Chauhan gives credit to the late Prof Karan Singh.
“If Randhawa has made a mention of my name to claim the award, it’s wrong,” he said.
In fact, for polishing Chauhan’s talent, Karan Singh was awarded the Dronacharya in 1995.
According to Chauhan, when he was preparing for the Munich Olympics in Patiala, Randhawa was in the national camp, but he didn’t give him any tips.
“Since some people in the camp were more interested in politics, I never took their help,” he said. During his preparation, Chauhan claims CM Muthiah (then National Institute of Sports director) used to oversee his training.
“Muthiah ji helped me,” he said.