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Pitching for Dronacharya award, by hook or by crook

A system should be in place to ensure that only deserving coaches are honoured.

other Updated: Aug 23, 2012 01:21 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times

Is there something seriously wrong with the nominations for the Dronacharya awards, or are we simply jumping the gun?

Sample this: Satpal received the highest sporting honour given to a coach, in 2009 for grappler Sushil Kumar's bronze medal-winning performance at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In the name of Sushil, another coach at the Chhatrasal Stadium, Ramphal, was conferred the honour in 2011, while this year, Yashvir is all set to receive the Drona for the ace grappler’s silver medal-winning performance at the London Games.

It’s turning out to be a case of hitching a ride on a sporting star’s coattails. Over the years, the selection committee, which has some of the best former sportspersons and senior government officials, is making a mockery of the award, and those with influence are able to get their way, no matter how difficult the hurdles.

Long jumper Anju Bobby George, the only athlete till date to have won a medal at the World championships — bronze in Paris, 2003 —, recommended her husband, Robert Bobby George, for the Drona and he promptly got it in 2003, though she trained under American great Mike Powell for nearly two years.

Discus thrower Neelam Jaswant Singh, before she tested positive for a stimulant and was banned in 2005, had ensured a Drona for her husband, Jaswant Singh, even though he was a long jumper with mediocre success at the national level.

The trend has former chief national athletics coach, JS Saini, worried. “The award should be given to those who have devoted their lives, and not just a couple of years, to coaching. The current trend of family members seconding each others’ name is degrading the award,” said Saini.

With Virender Poonia, husband of 2010 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Krishna Poonia, next in line to receive the award on August 29, it will be a family affair once again.

And no one seems to be raising the red flag, just yet.

First Published: Aug 22, 2012 23:34 IST