Coaches who have worked for the betterment of women sportspersons — Purnima Mahato (archery), Narendra Singh Saini (hockey) and Mahavir Singh (boxing) — have been given priority in the recommendations for the Dronacharya Award.
The selection panel, headed by hockey Olympian Ashok Kumar Singh, that met here on Thursday also selected K.P. Thomas of athletics and the secretary general of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Raj Singh, for the Dronacharya award for ‘life time achievement’.
The 39-year-old Purnima was the coach of the Indian team that competed in the last two Olympics in Beijing and London.
She has been coaching world-beater Deepika Kumari among others, not only at the international level, but also at the Tata archery academy in Jamshedpur. She was also part of the coaching team during the last Commonwealth and Asian Games.
A former national champion, Purnima had won many international medals as well, including the silver in the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
Saini has been involved with women’s hockey for nearly two decades at his base in Ranchi, helping tribal girls flourish under his guidance.
About 30 of his wards have represented the country, including the current bunch of four in the women’s team and 10 in the junior girls’ team. He has also been the coach of the national teams.
Close on the heels of Cuban coach B.I. Fernandez getting the Dronacharya award for promoting boxing in the country for nearly two decades, Mahavir Singh too is being honoured for his contribution.
Five-time World Champion Mary Kom bronze medal in the London Games last year had paved the way for women’s boxing coaches being better appreciated.
Thomas, a physical education teacher from Kottayam in Kerala, who had been instrumental in putting World championship bronze medallist Anju George apart from the likes of Shiny Abraham and Jincy Philips on the right track in their early days, was also recognised for his contribution in the development of women athletes among others.
Raj Singh has been associated with coaching wrestlers for a long time, apart from being an international referee.
He worked his way to become the secretary of the Wrestling Federation, and had rightly been basking on the excellent performances of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in the last two Olympics.
The Dronacharya awards will be presented by the President on the Sports Day, August 29.