From being in the wilderness two years ago and not sure where his career was heading, Nagapuri Ramesh, the athletics coach from the Sports Authority of India, now has every reason to smile after being named as one of the recipients of the prestigious Dronacharya Award to be presented on August 29.
Ramesh, who was born in Hanamkonda (Warangal), has also become the first Dronacharya recipient in the newly-formed Telangana State. “Honestly, this makes the award even more special,” he says.
"I must thank the SAI, the Athletics Federation of India and all the athletes for putting in so much of effort to win laurels and in the process help me gain recognition,” says Ramesh who was directly recruited by the SAI by virtue of being a topper in the qualifying exam in 1992.
More popular in the State for producing double Olympian Satti Geetha and national champion P. Shankar, Ramesh has endeared himself to many in the sports fraternity with his high commitment levels, hard work and discipline.
Ramesh has always been forced to stay away from his family because of being attached to one national camp or the other in Patiala for close to 25 years now. “It was very difficult to be away from my family members, but my passion for coaching kept me going,” he insists even while thanking his family members for all their sacrifices.
Ramesh points out that what keeps him going is identifying new talent and re-drawing goals. “Yes, the story of Dutee Chand making it to Rio after the IAAF ban on her is one of the high-points of my career. I took up the responsibility knowing fully well that she was innocent in the wake of hyperandrogenism charges. And, I am glad that we both proved the critics wrong as she qualified for the women’s 100m event for Rio,” he explains.
“Dutee’s story is also a reminder that Indian athletes have it in them to make it big provided they are given the desired scientific methods of training,” he says.
Ramesh insists that there is no dearth of facilities. "For instance, in Hyderabad, we have a world class athletic track. But what is important is how many are actually using such facilities,” he said.
Interestingly, at the instance of the then IHF Secretary K. Jyothikumaran, Ramesh was made the physical trainer of the Indian hockey team before the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Not surprisingly, for him one of his most memorable moments include watching Mukesh Kumar score the fastest goal in the Sydney Games.
“Definitely, this Award will only help me to keep going and the desire is to produce a few more Olympians for Tokyo,” Ramesh said before leaving for Delhi.
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