5 most influential coaches in Indian sport

Sunny Thomas played a vital role in India’s shooting success

One of the key reasons for the success of any sportspersons is the role played his/her coach. Providing the sportsperson the confidence that he can achieve success and reach the top, ironing out flaws in his/her game are some of the important roles played by a coach.India, over the years, has had many coaches who have had a massive influence on the performance of teams, across spectrums. Here’s a look at 5 of the most influential coaches that the country has had.

#5 Sunny Thomas

Sunny Thomas played a vital role in India’s shooting success

In the last 3 editions, India has won a total of 4 Olympic medals in shooting. One of the key men in the country’s success has been Sunny Thomas, who served as the coach of the team for a period of 19 years between 1993 and 2012.

Thomas was a successful shooter during his playing days when he won 5 medals that included two gold medals at the Kerala state Championships that were held in Kottayam in Kerala and also became the national champion in the Rifle 3 Position open sight event in Chennai in 1976.

While quitting his post in 2012, Thomas had expressed his desire to continue to play a role in the sport in future.

#4 Ilyas Babar

Ilyas Babar – The man behind Indian athletics stupendous success in athletics in the 70’s

Born in Gulbarga in 1926, Ilyas Babar was the state champion in the 110m hurdles category and in the long jump event for a period of 7 years between 1950 and 1957 and was a top-class athlete for the Osmania University, the place from where graduated.

The athletes who have trained under him include the likes of Sriram Singh, who won a silver at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok in the 800m event and a gold each in the same event at the 1974 and 1978 Asian Games, Tarlok Singh, who won a gold in the 10000m and a bronze in the 5000m at the 1963 Jakarta Asian Games and many others. Sriram set a new Indian record at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which still stands till date.

Out of a total of 10 athletes that he trained, they won a combined tally of 17 gold medals across Asian Games and Asian Track and Field events, three Padam Shri awards and 5 Arjuna awards. A distinguished panel of experts voted him as the best coach in Asia at the 1978 Asian Games that was held in Bangkok and also presented him with the Golden Shoe. He was awarded the Dronacharya Award in 1994.

Babar passed away in 2002, days after suffering from a stomach ulcer.

#3 Syed Abdul Rahim

Syed Abdul Rahim- among India’s best football coaches

Considered to be one of India’s best football managers, Syed Abdul Rahim played a key role in India reaching the semifinals of the 1963 Melbourne Olympics Football Tournament and ios regarded as an architect of modern Indian football. Rahim was known to be a good communicator and man-manager and his stint in the national team is regarded as a “golden age” of Indian football.

During his tenure as coach India also won gold medals at the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games and his death in 1963 resulted in a decline of football in the country.

During a workshop in 1964 in Brazil, the then coach of the Indian football team Alberto Fernando had this to say about Rahim, “ What I learnt from Rahim in 1956 is now being taught now in Brazil. Verity, he was a football prophet,”.

#2 Pullela Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand has played a key role in Saina Nehwal’s career

After a successful career as a player, Pullela Gopichand decided to give something back to the sport by turning his attention to coaching players in his academy at Hyderabad. Among his most celebrated pupils include current World No.1 Saina Nehwal, whom he helped win several titles, including an Olympic bronze at the London Olympics in 2012 over a considerable period of time.

Gopichand also played a key role in the development of PV Sindhu, who became the first Indian to win back-to-back medals at the World Championships in 2013 and 2014. Gopichand has also played a significant role in the rise of Indian Men’s Singles players, with the likes of Kidambi Srikanth, who currently is ranked 4th in the world and Parupalli Kashyap, who is ranked 8th in the world at the moment.

Currently the chief coach of the Indian team, Gopichand will look to unearth more diamonds in the future, who would bring laurels to the country.

#1 Gary Kirsten

Gary Kirsten is perhaps Indian cricket team’s successful coach till date

Brought into the Indian setup at the beginning of 2008, Former South African opener Gary Kirsten made an immediate impact on the Indian cricket team, helping them win the 2008 Perth Test.

Among Kirsten's biggest achievements during his three-and-a-half tenure with the team included taking India to the World No.1 ranking in Tests in 2009, assisting the team in winning their first Test series in New Zealand after a gap of 40 years, helping India draw a Test series in South Africa in 2010-11 for the very first time and of course, play a key role in India winning the World Cup in 2011 at home.

One of the features about Kirsten that most spoke about was his ability to keep the players calm and communicate clearly with them. Before the start of India’s tour to South Africa in 2010, MS Dhoni described Kirsten as “ The best thing to happen to Indian Cricket.”

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Edited by Staff Editor
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