Hyderabad: After churning out champions on the athletics track and sports fields for 15 years, Hyderabad’s Nagapuri Ramesh hit a personal high on Monday when the Union Sports Ministry selected him for the Dronacharya award, conferred upon outstanding coaches.
“To be the first from Telangana to get this prestigious award makes me feel proud,” an elated Ramesh told this newspaper. The 50-year-old is also “thankful to the Sports Authority of India for giving me a job.”
Ramesh has been instrumental in shaping up several Olympians, most notably Dutee Chand, who became the first Indian to achieve the qualifying mark for the women’s 100 metres at the just-concluded Rio Games. In fact, Ramesh has mentored Dutee through a punishing ordeal arising out of hyperandrogenism and put her back on track.
Now, he laps up the accolades. “Humanity is the most important quality of a coach,” he says. “Once you have an emotional connect with your ward, confidence and trust levels are boosted. The skillset automatically gets sharpened.”
Then, there is sacrifice. “I am thankful to my wife and daughters who have put up with my busy schedule for a decade-and-a-half. The athletics season runs from January to December and one has to be on the move all the time. I have spent more time at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala than home but my family is supportive.”
Ramesh’s wife Vidyullatha is a home maker, elder daughter Anisha has finished her schooling and is preparing for Eamcet and younger one Bhavisha is in seventh standard. Anisha has dabbled a bit with cricket and also finished second in the 1,500 metres race at an inter-schools meet in Hyderabad.
Having worked with them over the years, the affable Ramesh is also good friends with the sporting stars from Hyderabad. “I know for sure that cricketers VVS Laxman and MSK Prasad, shuttler Pullela Gopichand and hockey player N. Mukesh Kumar would be very happy today. They have always encouraged me in my career.”
Ramesh treated Laxman when he scored that epic 281 against Australia in Kolkata back in 2001, the same year Gopi won his All-England title. He was also fitness trainer of the Indian hockey team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where Mukesh scored the fastest goal — in 30 seconds — in the opener against Australia. For now, he is looking to prepare future champions.