New Delhi: Six top coaches of the country, including London Olympic Games bronze medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt’s mentor Yashvir Singh, were on Tuesday recommended for the prestigious Dronacharya Award.
Besides Yashvir, the other five who have been recommended by the 15-member committee for the award were India’s boxing coach from Cuba B I Fernandez, athletics coach Virender Poonia, Sunil Davas (kabbadi), Dr Satyapal (parathletics) and Harinder Singh (hockey).
Fernandez, who has been involved behind the scenes for the past few years which had seen India winning two boxing medals in the Olympics, became the first foreign coach to have been recommended for the coveted award. He has been nominated for the award on special consideration.
Virender is the husband-cum-coach of discus thrower Krishna Poonia who in 2010 became the first Indian woman individual gold medal winner in athletics in the Commonwealth Games. He was also Poonia’s coach in the just-concluded London Olympics where she finished seventh.
Harinder was the coach of the Indian hockey team for some months after Spaniard Jose Brasa was sacked following India’s poor showing in the 2010 Asian Games till Australian Michael Nobbs took charge in August 2011.
The Dronacharya Awards committee was headed by former Indian hockey captain Aslam Sher Khan. The other members include Rajkumar Sangwan (boxing), Dhanraj Pillai (hockey), Shiny Wilson (athletics), Morad Ali Khan (shooting), Karnam Malleswari (weightlifting), Bahadur Singh (athletics), Bhupender Dhawan (powerlifting), G S Sandhu (boxing), Ramphan Mann (wrestling), Prem Chand Degra (body building).
The Award, which carries Rs five lakh and a citation and is conferred to coaches of different sports for their noteworthy contribution, will be presented by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29, the National Sports Day.
An elated Virender said that his hard work over the years as coach of Poonia has been recognised.
“My hard work as coach has been recognised. I thank the ministry, the federation and all those involved for their support,” he said.
Virender was an international hammer thrower before turning to coaching. He won a bronze in hammer throw in the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in 1992 and finished fourth in the 1998 Asian Senior Championships.
“I have coached other athletes also before Krishna Poonia. I have coached athletes in the Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games,” he added.