It was a proud moment for noted athletics coach T P Ouseph as he was selected for the Dronacharya Award in the life-time achievement category on Tuesday. The 75-year-old former Indian Air Force athlete has been moulding international and national jumpers for more than four decades.
Though long overdue, Ouseph was delighted to have gained the recognition this year. “I'm very happy to have been selected for the honour. India is such a vast country and there is a wide variety of sporting disciplines. The fact that only five coaches get the life-time achievement award every year makes me extremely proud and honoured,” Ouseph told Onmanorama.
Ouseph, who hails from Iringole near Perumbavoor, has been coaching for the past 43 years. “I was a champion long jumper and triple jumper during my Air Force days. I started off my coaching career in the Air Force in 1978. After I quit the IAF, I was appointed as a Sports Council coach at the G V Raja (Sports) School in Thiruvananthapuram in 1981.”
During his three-year stint at G V Raja, Ouseph moulded former international triple jumper S Murali.
Ouseph had a rewarding seven-year spell as athletics coach of Vimala College, Thrissur. “The Vimala College management was very supportive and the results are a testimony to it. I used to focus mostly on sprint events, hurdles and jumps. I coached Olympians Bobby Aloysius, Jincy Phillip and Anju George in their formative years. It is a matter of pride that I could produce three national champions - Bobby (high jump), Anju (long jump) and Lekha Thomas (triple jump) - in three different disciplines,” said Ouseph.
Ouseph, who was athletics coach of Alphonsa College, Pala, for a couple of years, served as the national jumps coach from 1994 to 1998.
World Championship bronze medallist Anju Bobby George remains Ouseph's most famous ward. “I trained under Ouseph sir for one-year at Vimala. Later, myself, Bobby and Lekha were his trainees at the national camp in Bengaluru. He was a father figure to me. He had an eye for detail and a scientific approach to training. He used to explain the specific purpose of each coaching method. One thing that stood out was his dedication. Even now he remains as passionate as ever,” said Anju.
After his retirement from the Sports Council, Ouseph had a long 16-year tenure as coach of Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam. “I succeeded in making them university champions. Once I bid bye to the College in 2019, a couple of my disciples, Sandra Babu and Sachu George wanted to continue as my trainees. I took up the offer from Christ College, Irinjalakuda, since it was a mixed college so that I could take both Sandra and Sachu along with me. Right now I am training six athletes at Christ.”
Sandra is touted as a future star in long jump and triple jump. Ouseph hopes that his wards will do the country proud. “My goal is to make sure my trainees go on to represent India in the 2024 Paris Olympics,” he signed off.