Para-athlete Deepa Malik forwarded the names of two different coaches to the sports ministry and the Haryana government for cash awards

Para-athlete Deepa Malik forwarded the names of two different coaches to the sports ministry and the Haryana government for cash awards

Chandigarh, June20Para-athlete Deepa Malik, it seems, is either unsure who her coach is or is trying to take advantage of the policy of cash awards.

It has come to light that the silver medalist from the 2016 Rio Paralympics has forwarded the names of two different coaches to the sports ministry and the Haryana government for cash awards.

Government has instituted cash awards to medal-winning athletes as well as their coaches to encourage them to strive further. But with huge loopholes in the system, athletes have been known to exploit it by recommending names of their kin to bag the award money.

It seems Deepa, who won silver in the F-53 shot put category in Rio, is also trying to take advantage of the same.

As per government policy, Deepa was awarded Rs. 50 lakh. Her coach, according to the policy, gets half of the amount.

Initially, Deepa projected her husband—Col (retd) Vikram Singh Malik, as a coach to the ministry. The case was rejected on the ground that her husband had gone to Rio Paralympics as an escort and not coach. Later, she forwarded the name of fitness trainer Vaibhav Sirohi.

Deepa played down the issue by saying that being a wheelchair-bound athlete, a lot of people helped her. “There should be policy to give cash awards to supporting staff too,” she said, adding her husband also helped in training, which is why she named him.

On forwarding the name of Sirohi, she said: “He (Sirohi) was my trainer. Helped me gain strength and fitness. He deserves the award.” Eventually Sirohi was given the cash award of Rs. 25 lakh.

In the build up to Rio, the wheelchair bound athlete also got coaching tips from Naresh Choudhary. Even Choudhary claimed he should have got the cash award.

What is intriguing is the fact that Deepa, in 2014-15, gave an affidavit to another coach — Naval Singh – it primarily helped him earn the Dronacharya Award. Naval said that he had been guiding Deepa for long.

State award

Also, in an affidavit to the Haryana sports department, Deepa stated that her coach was Girraj Singh, who was mainly responsible for guiding her to a podium finish at Rio Paralympics. Girraj Singh is the secretary of the state body’s paralympic committee and an employee of the state education department. He got a cash award of Rs. 10 lakh.

On forwarding the name of Girraj for the state award, Deepa said: “He (Girraj) was instrumental in mentoring, me so I named him for the state award.”

When HT contacted Girraj, his response was evasive. “If an athlete wants that I should get the cash award, there shouldn’t be any problem,” he said.

Controversies galore

Who deserves the credentials? There are glaring instances where top athletes exploited the policy to recommend names of close associated and family members for cash award.

Besides Deepa, there was also controversy regarding Sakshi Malik’s coach. The Rio bronze medalist had named Mandeep Singh, while chief national women’s coach Kuldeep Malik’s name also figured in the list. Malik said he received only Rs. 7.5 lakh instead of Rs. 12.5 lakh from the ministry.

Malik said he doesn’t want to get dragged into the controversy any more. “It looks a bit silly to pursue the case as focus is to prepare the national team for the world championship in August. The camp has started and almost all the wrestlers have joined,” he said

Major controversies in the past

After Abhinav Bindra the won gold in men’s 10m air rifle at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) forwarded the name of chief coach Sunny Thomas for the cash award, while Bindra named Lt Col (retd) JS Dhillon.

Beijing Games bronze medalist in boxing Vijender Singh named Jagdish Singh, his coach at Bhiwani training centre, for the cash award. But chief national coach GS Sandhu said he also deserved the award.

Double Olympic Games medalist in wrestling, Sushil Kumar has recommended names of at least four coaches, including Yashbir Singh, for the Dronacharya Award.