Olympic silver medalist Vijay Kumar expresses disappointment over being rejected for High-Performance coach job

Olympic silver medalist Vijay Kumar expresses disappointment over being rejected for High-Performance coach job

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Olympic pistol shooter Vijay Kumar is "shocked" that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has rejected his application for the position of High-Performance Coach (HPC) and that they have not even thought it appropriate to inform him of their decision.

On July 21, SAI named five HPCs in the sports of archery, kabaddi, fencing, shooting, and athletics. Vijay, a five-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist and 2012 London Olympics rapid-fire pistol silver medalist, sought for the position when SAI advertised it in February-March.

Manoj Kumar, a rifle instructor who is presently practising with the Indian squad at the shooting range for the Paris Olympics, has been recommended for the position by SAI.

“I had applied for the post (of HPC). I was waiting for the interview call. There were rumours that interviews (for the post) were being conducted. This morning, someone randomly called up and said that the list is out. When I checked the list (on the SAI website) I was surprised and shocked."

“I perfectly fitted the criteria they (SAI) had set. It was stated that if you are an Olympic medallist you would be directly recruited. As far as I know, no Olympic medallist apart from me had applied for the post on the basis of deputation,” said Vijay, a DSP with Himachal Pradesh Police.

“Earlier, HPCs were appointed on a contract basis but recently SAI had opened the jobs for experts to come on deputation from other institutions and render their services. So, on that basis, I had applied for the post.

“I am shocked that despite having achieved so much for the country, my name is not there. I believe the person who has been recommended for the post has some team international medal but no major Asian, Commonwealth Games medal,” said Vijay, winner of a silver and two bronze medals at the Asian Games.

Manoj participated in four World Cups and Asian Championships in 2005, according to his biography on the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) website, however he didn't take home any medals.

“I am the recipient of the Padma Shri, Khel Ratna (the highest sporting honour) and the Arjuna Award,” added Vijay.

Vijay responded that just a "online application had to be submitted" when asked if a panel had been established to shortlist specialists for the top position.

“I didn’t get a reply or receipt to my mail, no confirmation. I suppose no one got a confirmation mail. The application had to be forwarded to one Mr Madhav, in charge of the SAI coaching wing.”

Wanave Madhav Popat, Assistant Director (Coaching), SAI, Coaching Division, is the signatory on the letter proposing the appointment of the five HPCs.

“I am going to register my protest. I used to keep asking a senior women’s shooting coach, who is also an SAI employee, and she kept assuring that interviews will take place in a month or two. And then, suddenly, this notification comes.

“I am going to write to DG, SAI (Sandip Pradhan) and Sports Minister (Anurag Thakur). This should be brought to the notice of higher authorities that a below-average person, who hasn’t achieved anything at the international level has been recommended for the job. Tell me, what part of the criteria I don’t fulfil?” he asked.

Shiv Sharma, Deputy Director General SAI, stated that Pradhan is "not the right person" to remark on the matter while Pradhan did not return calls or texts.

Manoj had submitted an application for the HPC position, a SAI representative and a shooting instructor confirmed to PTI.

“He (Manoj) has 10-15 years of coaching experience with (Indian) Air Force team. He is currently attached to the national team as a rifle coach.

“Vijay thinks that only Olympians can be an HPC. But, there is someone who has been coaching for 10-15 years with devotion and dedication. I want to question Vijay, how many athletes has he trained? What is his coaching experience? He is an Olympian shooter, I agree, but this is for the post of a coach, not a shooter,” she added.

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