Sathi Geetha, P.V. Sindhu, Pallela Ravi Shankar, M.R. Baig and Nagapuri Ramesh nominated for Arjuna and Dronacharya awards

The Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh has, perhaps, sent nominations for the prestigious Arjuna and Dronacharya awards for one last time in the unified State. The names include double Olympian athlete Sathi Geetha and badminton player P.V. Sindhu for the Arjuna Award, while archery coach Pallela Ravi Shankar, cricket coach M.R. Baig and athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh have been nominated for the Dronacharya Award.

The procedure is that the athletes have to forward all their details to the government, which in turn sends the complete backgrounder giving the list of achievements over a period of time to the Union Sports Ministry. Geetha’s is surely an inspirational success story in athletics, having come from a family that owned a small-time cycle spares shop in the obscure Marteru town of West Godavari district.

She was one of the big names in the AP Sports School’s first batch of outstanding young achievers under the tutelage of former SAI coach M. Ranga Rao along with P. Shankar. She went on to represent India in the 2004 Athens and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Sindhu has an impressive list of achievements including the Asian under-19 championship. Widely tipped to be the next best bet after Saina Nehwal in Indian women’s badminton, this St. Ann’s College student has literally forced her achievements to be recommended for the honour.

M.R. Baig’s nomination has come somewhat of a pleasant surprise because he was the most visible face when the Lal Bahadur Stadium used to be the hub of cricketing activity in Hyderabad as many national camps were held under his guidance. However, he has been ignored over the years.

The nomination of Nagapuri Ramesh is somewhat predictable as he has been with the Indian team for various international meets and has been constantly producing national champions. In a way, it was he who gave a definite direction to the likes of Geetha and Shankar in their latter stages of international career, besides moulding new champions like Mrudula.

Archery coach Ravi Shankar, who holds a doctorate in the subject, is the most deserving. He traverses 70 km almost daily to the AP Sports School to train young talent despite being only a consolidated coach in the SAAP, with no additional financial strings attached.

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