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Shooting | Prof. Sunny Thomas turns 80

Prof. Sunny Thomas.  

The cream of Indian shooting admired, applauded and expressed gratitude to former national coach Prof. Sunny Thomas who will be celebrating his 80th birthday on Sunday.

“I want to thank you for the guidance and support you provided me throughout my sporting career. As a patient and understanding mentor, you kept us going, through the tough times. Thank you for being a pillar of strength and nurturing me to unfurl my fullest potential,” said former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra in a video message to the family.

Golden era

A retired English professor of St. Stephen’s College in Uzhavoor, Kerala, Thomas was the national coach from 1993 till 2012. It was a golden era of Indian shooting as he kept the team together on the path of progress.

“It is definitely not a surprise that all our four Olympic medals in shooting came during your glorious tenure as the coach of the national team,” said Abhinav.

Prof. Thomas, who was presented the Dronacharya award in 2001, had a remarkably fruitful stint, as he guided the team win hundreds of medals, in five Olympics, six World Championships, more than 50 World Cups, six Asian Games and five Commonwealth Games.

Great record: Bindra reminded that all four of India’s Olympic shooting medals came during Prof. Sunny Thomas’ tenure as coach.

Great record: Bindra reminded that all four of India’s Olympic shooting medals came during Prof. Sunny Thomas’ tenure as coach.  

 

“A student’s success is determined by the calibre of the teacher. A good teacher is like a light in the dark.

“To me, Sunny sir was that light when I started my career. I feel blessed to have had Sunny sir at all important junctures of my career,” said the World and Olympic medallist Gagan Narang, who had phenomenal success at all levels.

Binding the team

Former world-record holder, Olympic finalist and current coach with the national team, Suma Shirur, acknowledged Prof. Thomas’ ability to bind the rifle, pistol and shotgun shooters as a team.

“You understood us, trusted us and we had the trust in you,” said Suma as she recalled her being convinced about her world record of 400 only when Prof. Thomas told her.

The pioneer of rifle shooting, Anjali Bhagwat who made the breakthrough in the global arena after making the final in the Sydney Olympics, said, “I feel glad that I achieved all my success and medals during your tenure.

“I remember how happy you were when I won my first World Cup medal in Sydney. And how proud you were with my four gold medals with new records in the Manchester Commonwealth Games”.

Shooting | Prof. Sunny Thomas turns 80
 

Another coach with the Olympic team, Deepali Deshpande, appreciated Prof. Thomas’ ability to unite the team. “Now as a coach, I understand how difficult it is. You did it with ease for 20 years”.

Inspiration to all

Another seasoned shooter and coach now, Kuheli Gangulee said, “We are missing your presence in the Indian team at the moment. You are an inspiration to all of us, and a great leader”.

After having drawn a blank in the last two Olympics in Rio and Tokyo, Indian shooting does appreciate the remarkable role played by Prof. Thomas while heartily greeting him a ‘Happy birthday’.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 5:24:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/shooting-prof-sunny-thomas-turns-80/article36674523.ece

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