Eight leading coaches of the country, including London Olympic Games bronze medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt's mentor Yashvir Singh, were officially named for the prestigious Dronacharya award.
Besides Yashvir, the other seven picked by a 15-member committee were athletics coach Virender Poonia, Sunil Davas (kabbadi), Harendra Singh (hockey), Dr Satyapal (parathletics), India's boxing coach from Cuba B I Fernandez, J S Bhatia (athletics) and Bhawani Mukherjee (table tennis).
"Ordinarily not more than five Dronacharya awards could be given in any calendar year. However, taking into consideration that this is the year of Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and there has been immense contribution of coaches in the improved performance of the sportspersons, the government has decided to increase the number of Dronacharya awards from 5 to 8 for the current year," the Sports Ministry said.
"Taking into account the outstanding contributions of Shri BI Fernandez, Cuban boxing coach, in the performance of the Indian boxers in international sports events, including mega events such as Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, the Dronacharya award will also be conferred upon Shri BI Fernandez. He is the first foreign coach to receive Dronacharya award," a statement from the Sports Ministry added.
Among others, Virender is the husband of discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who in 2010 became the first Indian woman individual gold medal winner in athletics at the Commonwealth Games. He was also Poonia's coach in the just-concluded London Olympics, where she finished seventh.
Harendra was the coach of the Indian hockey team for some months after Spaniard Jose Brasa was sacked following India's poor showing in the 2010 Asian Games till Australian Michael Nobbs took charge in August 2011.