He was a 'Rai' of hope for athletes
Purushotham Rai coached top athletes like Olympian quarter miler Vandana Rao, heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa, Ashwini Nachappa, Murali Kuttan, M K Asha, E B Shyla, Rosa Kutty and G G Pramila
Bengaluru: Hours after being conferred the highest sporting award Dronacharya Award, the country's most celebrated athletic coach Purushotham Rai, 79, died of a massive heart attack.
Rai was to receive the Dronacharya Award from President Ram Nath Kovind in the lifetime achievement category. The former coach had even attended the rehearsals for the felicitation event at Vikasa Soudha on Thursday.
Purushotham Rai coached top athletes like Olympian quarter miler Vandana Rao, heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa, Ashwini Nachappa, Murali Kuttan, M K Asha, E B Shyla, Rosa Kutty and G G Pramila. He coached the Indian team for the 1987 World Athletics Championship, the 1988 Asian Track and Field Championships and the 1999 South Asian Games. Rai began his coaching career after securing a diploma from Netaji Institute of Sports in 1974.
The Karnataka Athletics Association and other sportspersons condoled the death of veteran athletics coach Purushottam Rai, who was to have received the Dronacharya award on Saturday. The KAA, in its condolence message, described Rai as a dedicated coach who trained many national and international athletes between 1980 to 1990.
"Rai was a dedicated coach between 1980 to 90. He had trained national and international athletes at Sri Kanteerava Stadium. He is the third person to receive this award from Karnataka in athletics. Earlier the late N Lingappa and last year VR Beedu were awarded.
Heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. May God give his family strength to bear the loss," the Karnataka Athletics Association stated.
"India lost veteran athletics Coach Shri Puroshottam Rai on Friday. Shri Rai was to receive the Dronacharya (Lifetime) Award today at the virtual National Sports Awards ceremony. His contribution will always be remembered," sports minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted. The National Sports Awards ceremony will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was a good coach under whom many top Indian athletes, including many Olympians, had trained. It is such a sad incident to pass away just a day before receiving the award," said former long-jump Anju Bobby George, one of India's star athletes.