With PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik shining at the recent Rio Olympics and Vinesh Phogat winning the Arjuna Award, there is a joke that has been doing rounds on social media recently that finally, it has been proven that there is a man behind every successful woman too! Digging into it, the coaches of these four sportswomen, who happen to be men, have sacrificed a lot of things, traveled around the world with the athletes, providing all the support they can. These coaches showed true leadership by leading by example even if they had to face mocking from their own relatives for the career choices they made. Here are the success stories of these true leaders:

Ishwar Dahiya (Coach of Sakshi Malik):

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When Sakshi took up wrestling in 2004, everyone criticized her parents saying they had committed a blunder by allowing her to choose such a sport. But Sakshi tells us, “Apart from my parents, Ishwar sir stood by me and asked me not to pay attention to what people said. I am indebted to him because he has taught me everything about wrestling. In fact, it was on his suggestion that I trained with boys too, which helped me tremendously in improving as a wrestler.”

Bishweshwar Nandi (Coach of Dipa Karmakar):

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When Dipa did not have basic facilities, Nandi helped her by building training equipment with discarded scooter parts and other materials and it was him who suggested that Dipa must try the Produnova vault to have a decent shot at the Olympics. Nandi travels all around the globe with her and he had taken out the SIM card from her phone before the Olympic finals to ensure that she was focused. Dipa says, “Nandi sir is a father figure to me. At every big event, he takes the pressure off me and asks me to treat it just like a practice round.” Nandi, who has been coaching Dipa for 16 years, adds, “Initially, I would be scared whenever she tried the Produnova vault but her perseverance has started paying off. Dipa has put in years of tremendous hard work, and the sky is the limit if she keeps performing to her potential.”

Mahavir Singh Phogat (Coach and Uncle of Vinesh Phogat):

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Vinesh lost her father at a young age and Mahavir, her father’s elder brother, never let her feel that void in her life. She started living with his family as a kid. However, he was very strict when it came to training. Recalls Vinesh, “As a kid, I didn’t even want to get into wrestling, although I had discovered that I was good at it. But then, there was no running away from tauji (uncle), as he chased us with sticks if we didn’t want to train. But I am glad that he did that to us. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been representing India today. I am glad that Bollywood is making a film on his life.”

Pullela Gopichand (Coach of PV Sindhu):

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Gopichand who was a recipient of the Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award, the prestigious Padma Bhushan, selflessly founded the Gopichand Badminton Academy that produced some excellent players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap. The man did not take a moment of hesitation to go ahead with this step even if he had to mortgage his own house for the academy. His wife PVV Lakshmi who was an 8-time national badminton champion, represented India at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She recently said that Sindhu is lucky enough to have the facilities, the guidance and a good coach which she did not have back then in 1996.

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