Sportstar Aces Awards: Coach of the Year

Our nominees Rahul Dravid, Pullela Gopi Chand and Massimo Costantini have helped mould champions. What makes them stand apart?

Rahul Dravid has played a key role in creating a talent pool.   -  Getty Images


This has been a year to remember for India U-19 and A team coach, Rahul Dravid. The former Indiacaptain guided the U-19 team to its World Cup win in February. Later, he guided the India A team towins in England. He has played a key role in creating a talent pool.

Under Rahul Dravid in 2018

  • India won the 2018 U-19 World Cup
  • India A completed a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand A in an ODI series
  • Players like Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, groomed by Dravid, got the national call-up


India shuttlers P.V. Sindhu (left) and Saina Nehwal with national coach Pullela Gopichand.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.V.S. GIRI


Pullela Gopi Chand (Badminton)

Over the years, Pullela Gopichand has made it a habit to produce champions. As the head coach of the country’s badminton team, Gopichand has played a key role in the team’s success in major championships. At the Commonwealth, India had the maximum number of medals in badminton, winning two gold medals ( Saina in women and mixed team gold), three silver (Sindhu, Srikanth and men’s doubles team of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty) and one bronze (women’s doubles team of Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy).

India also clinched a silver (Sindhu) and bronze ( Saina) at the Asian Games this year. Sindhu broke her finals jinx of sorts by winning the BWF World Tour Finals title in December.

Gopi’s wards in 2018

  • P.V. Sindhu - Five nal appearances in India Open, Commonwealth Games, Thai Open, World Championship, Asian Games, team gold in Commonwealth Games and then ended the year on a high winning the prestigious BWF World Tour Final in China
  • Saina Nehwal - Finalist in Indonesian Open, Commonwealth Games gold medallist beating P.V. Sindhu, team gold in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games bronze (to complete a rare feat for an Indian shuttler in winning a medal in Olympics, World Championship, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Asian Championship), lost to Tai Tzu in the Denmark Open nal, bronze in Asian Championship
  • Sameer Verma - the surprise package in men’s section from India in 2018, winner of Swiss Open and the Hyderabad Open, qualied for the prestigious BWF World Tour Finals and made it to the seminal
  • K. Srikanth - had a disappointing year with the highlight being silver in the Commonwealth Games before losing to Lee Chong Wei in the nal, began the new year on a high guiding Bengaluru Raptors to title-triumph in the PBL
  • Ashwini Ponnappa & R. Satwiksairaj - leading mixed doubles pair from India - quarternalists in World championship, medallists in the Commonwealth Games
  • Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy - Commonwealth Games bronze medallists
  • R. Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty - Hyderabad Open men’s doubles winner
  • Sikki Reddy and Pranav Chopra - mixed doubles nalist in Hyderabad Open


Massimo Costantini with Manika Batra during the Commonwealth Games 2018. (File Image)   -  GETTY IMAGES



Massimo Costantini returned for a second stint as India coach in 2016 after India's disastrous performance at the Rio Olympics. Under him, India won eight medals at the Commonwealth Games this year and further made history by winning two medals at the Asian Games.

Manika Batra, G. Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal also attained their best-ever ranking this year. India was keen on extending his contract until 2020 Olympics, but Costantini decided to return home to Italy after the Asian Games He took up the role of ITTF's High Performance Director after leaving the India job.

Costantini in 2018

  • Manika Batra, G. Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal attained their best-ever rankings
  • India wins eight medals at the Commonwealth Games
  • India won two medals at the Asian Games
  • Batra won the ITTF Breakthrough Performer Award


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