New Delhi: Still aggrieved at his exclusion from the Dronacharya list last year, long-time coach and mentor of London Olympics silver medallist grappler Sushil Kumar, Yashvir Singh feels the recognition could not have come at a better time than this.
Yashvir, who has a long-standing association with Sushil and London Games bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, was on Tuesday recommended for the prestigious Dronacharya award.
"If I would have got the award last time around probably there wouldn`t have been the same amount of joy. It has really doubled this time," Yashvir said.
Yashvir`s name was in contention for the Dronacharya award last year also after Sushil won the World Championship in 66kg freestyle in 2010, but in an unprecedented turn of events, the coach was reportedly forced to pull his nomination back that paved the way for his colleague Ramphal to get the coveted award.
"Being a human being I did feel left out but then God has been really kind. Probably this is the more appropriate time," he said.
The ever-so modest Yashvir conceded that there was a time when he thought about distancing himself from the sport.
"There was a time when I thought of moving away from the sport but then the sense of national responsibility held me back. You sometimes have to make compromises for the larger good. There have been so many greats of the game who did not get the recognition, but that does not undermine their effort.
"Last year I tried for the award but this time around there was no persuasion from me. I was pretty relaxed. There was no pressure," he added.
It was 19 years back in 1993 when Yashvir, a physical education teacher, was roped in to train young kids at the Chhatrasal Stadium.
"When I look back it seems as if it was just yesterday when I came to Chhatrasal Stadium. But a lot has changed since then. There were no mats, we used to practice on soil. The boys used to sleep outside as there were no coolers.
"We had to also guard against rain. We used to cover the practice area so that the boys didn`t miss a single session," revealed Yashvir, who has spent more time with his wards than his family.
"I have shared each and every aspect of my students` life and tried to help them in every situation, sometimes even going overboard. What I haven`t done for my own children, I have done it for my wards and they too have not let me down," Yashvir said with a smile, and thanked his wife Vedvati for the support in making this journey a successful one.
It was at the same venue that Yashvir found two of his best wards, who would go on to make the country proud at the Olympics.
"Sushil joined the camp in 1995 and Yogeshwar followed suit after some time," he recalled.
Interestingly, it was in 1999 that the trio had their first combined national camp. And the results that followed grabbed everyone`s attention.
Both Yogeshwar and Sushil won a gold each at the World Cadet Championship in the same year.
"One thing which really separates these two from the rest of the lot is their commitment to the sport and their ability to pick the nuances of the game faster than the others. There is no doubt that both of them have done a lot of hard work to reach this height," said Yashvir about his wards.
According to the mentor, the duo hit peak form in 2003. Although they could not eke out the desired results from the 2004 Athens Olympics, they certainly did catch everyone`s attention with their skills.
"According to me both Sushil and Yogeshwar were at their peak in 2003 and if you see Sushil has since then being among the top seven-eight wrestlers of the world.
"Although Yogeshwar did not had the same amount of success at the international level but he also has been rated among the best. The credit must really go to them for maintaining that level for so long," said Yashvir, who looked content with the performance of his wards in London.
"We couldn`t got the gold that feeling will remain, but I am satisfied with what my wards have achieved," he said, adding that if the two continue with their efforts they have a chance to better their performance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"If they maintain their focus there is no reason why they can`t better their performance at 2016 Olympics," he said.
Talking about the younger lot, Yashvir said India has got a great future in low weight categories, but expressed his concern when it comes to the heavy weight.
"In low weight -- 55kg to 74kg -- we will continue to do well. Amit (Kumar Dahiya) is a good prospect he will only get better from here. There are few other youngsters who are shaping up well. Praveen Rana in particular is the one who has the potential to replace Sushil whenever he decides to quit the sport," Yashir said.
"But the problem is in the heavy weight category. Unfortunately our boys in the heavy weight get swayed by the amount of money they get from local tournaments. So they don`t want to compete in the international events. There needs to be a concerted effort in this regard," he said.