Ignored last year, shooting legend Jaspal Rana on Monday found his name among the 13 coaches recommended for this year's Dronacharya award by the sports ministry's selection committee.
Rana was nominated by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for the Dronacharya Award last year as well but was ignored, causing quite a flutter. It snowballed into a big controversy after India's only individual Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra criticised the selection panel for not picking the seasoned coach.
The 43-year-old Rana, a multiple Asian Games gold-medallist marksman, is credited with grooming the likes of teen sensations Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Choadhary, and Anish Bhanwala into world-class shooters. Besides, Rana hockey coaches Romesh Pathania and Jude Felix and wushu coach Kuldeep Pathania were also recommended for the award, a source close to the development told PTI.
It has also been learnt that the awards selection committee recommended 15 names for the Dhayan Chand Award this year. Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag and hockey stalwart Sardar Singh are part of the 12-member selection committee constituted by the sports ministry to select this year's winners. Also there in the panel is Paralympic silver-medallist Deepa Malik.
The other members of the committee include former table tennis player Monalisa Baruah Mehta, boxer Venkatesan Devarajan as well as sports commentator Manish Batavia and journalists Alok Sinha and Neeru Bhatia. The national sports awards are given away every year on August 29, the birth anniversary of hockey icon Dhyan Chand.
The panel also had representation from the Sports Ministry, including Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan, Joint Secretary (Sports Development) L S Singh and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) CEO Rajesh Rajagopalan.