New Delhi: The Olympic-bound trio of young Indian boxers spent their formative years under his guidance, but national youth coach G Manoharan remains an unsung hero and has been consistently ignored for the Dronacharya award despite being recommended five times by the boxing federation.
Olympic-bound L Devendro Singh (49kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Sumit Sangwan (81kg) and even the 20-year-old Vikas Krishan (69kg) honed their skills at the youth level with Manoharan at the Army Sports Institute in Pune.
Adding this year's recommendation, Manoharan's name has been nominated five times by the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) but despite his proven credentials, the 55-year-old Sports Authority of India coach has been ignored for the honour.
"All these boys have submitted affidavits that Manoharan is the one who groomed them in their formative years to support his case. He has been a good coach," an IBF official said.
"This is the fifth time that the IBF is recommending him because he has produced consistent results since taking over in 2006," he added.
Manoharan, a former boxer, is a quarter-finalist from the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The 1981 Arjuna awardee, who has been India's youth coach since 2006, has delivered the results. Under Manoharan's guidance, Thokchom Nanao Singh became the first Indian to be a youth world champion in 2008. The Manipuri then went on to make his mark at the senior level as well, by winning a silver at the 2009 Asian Championships.
Of the three teens who are going to the Olympics, Shiva clinched a silver at the 2010 Youth World Championships. The 18-year-old, who clinched a gold at his maiden senior international event last year, is the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics.
The 20-year-old Vikas became only the second Indian after Vijender Singh to clinch a medal at the World Championships when he fetched a bronze in Azerbaijan last year. Vikas was a gold-medalist at the 2010 Youth World Championships and is being seen as a strong medal contender in London.
"It's like doing a job without expecting, but at the end of the day we are all human. But I feel happy that the boys trained by me are doing so well internationally," said Manoharan.
Devendro was competing in his maiden senior international event when he went for last year's World Championships where he booked an Olympic berth by reaching the quarter-finals, upstaging stronger rivals.
For Sumit also, the Asian Olympic qualifiers was his maiden senior international event in which he clinched a gold medal some days ago along with Shiva.