The Union Sports Ministry has given its approval to the recommendations of the Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand awards committees by clearing the inflated lists of awardees in the “Olympic year.”
Accordingly, eight coaches have been selected for the prestigious Dronacharya award, while four have been named for the Dhyan Chand award for lifetime achievement in sports.
Normally, the Dronacharya honour is given for the contributions of a coach who has “successfully trained sportspersons or teams and enabled them achieve outstanding results in international competitions” in the previous calendar year.
The number of awardees is normally restricted to five and three for Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand honours.
Blurring the years
This time, the Ministry blurred the years (2011 and 2012) in the name of the Olympic year to increase the numbers.
However, in the excitement of including the Olympic performances, the Ministry did not inform the National Sports Federations (NSFs) that it was tagging the performances of 2012 along with those of 2011.
This year, for Dronacharya awards, only Yashvir Singh (wrestling), B.I. Fernandez (boxing) and Virendar Poonia (athletics) fit into the exceptional criterion of ‘Olympic year.’
Yashvir shaped the careers of some top wrestlers like Olympic medal winning wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, while Fernandez, a Cuban who has contributed in the rise of Indian boxing over two decades, was part of India’s success in the World championships last year and worked hard with the Indian boxers in the Olympics.
Virendar, husband and coach of discus thrower Krishna Poonia, could also be fitted into the ‘Olympic year’ hype as Krishna finished a creditable seventh in the London Games.
Bhawani Mukherjee (table tennis) and J.S. Bhatia (athletics), got the award for lifetime achievement, while Sunil Dabas’s contribution was for a non-Olympic discipline (kabaddi).
Former India hockey coach Harendra Singh’s selection defies logic. He was neither part of India’s qualification for the Olympics nor was he involved with the team that participated in the London Games. Over and above, the hockey team finished 12th and last in the Olympics.
Last year, when he was in-charge, the Indian team did not achieve any significant result.
Satyapal Singh has been chosen for the honour in para-sports (athletics).
As expected, the Ministry cleared the names of four sportspersons for the Dhyan Chand award.
They are Jagraj Singh Mann (athletics), Gundeep Kumar (hockey), Vinod Kumar (wrestling) and Sukhbir Singh Tokas (para-sports).
Besides, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (Community sports identification and nurturing of budding young talent), Railway Sports Promotion Board (Financial support for sports excellence), Services Sports Control Board (Establishment and management of sports academies of excellence) and Air India Sports Promotion Board (Employment of sportspersons and sports welfare measures) have been chosen for the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar.