Purnima Mahto and TV Narendran at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Wearing a pink chiffon sari with golden border and a dark blue blazer to go with it, Purnima Mahto may not have got her fashion steps right, but the ace archer surely has hit the bullseye.
After a grand welcome to her hometown on Sunday, it was time for the Dronacharya awardee, who has mentored the likes of Deepika Kumari, to be honoured by her employers, Tata Steel.
The long corridor at JRD Tata Sports Complex was packed with cadets from various Tata sports academies and training centres, coaches, sports department functionaries and cricketer Saurabh Tiwary on Monday, as Purnima Mahto received a memento and a shawl from the steel major’s vice-president T.V. Narendran amid huge applause.
Impressed by the achievement of the archery mentor, Narendran showered praise on Mahto. “I am happy that finally coaches are getting recognised for their hard work. It is the mentors who mould and build the latent potential of any sportsperson. I hope coaches are inspired by Mahto’s achievement,” said the vice-president.
Dedicating the award to Tata Steel, her parents and in-laws, the 37-year-old mentor said she had been associated with the steel major from the very beginning.
“I remember my training days at the Community Development and Social Welfare department. Later, Tata Steel absorbed me in 1994. Gradually, I became a coach with Tata Archery Academy. I am indebted to the company for its support and helping me realise my dreams,” Mahto said.
She also thanked her wards and colleagues at the archery cradle. “The sports department where I work is like my family,” she added.
The archer is the fifth coach from the Tata Steel stable to bag the coveted Dronacharya award. Earlier, Illyas Babar, K.O. Bosen (both athletes), Pullela Gopichand (badminton) and Sanjeeva Singh (archery) had received the honour.
Head of Tata Steel’s sports department Captain Amitabh, who was also present at the function, said he was hopeful that more coaches from Tata Steel would receive the Drona award in future. Senior manager of the department Charles Borommeo also graced the occasion.
Mahto, a resident of Vijaya Garden in Baridih, received the award from President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday.