Bengaluru, August 29: Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju joined the sports fraternity in condoling the death of veteran athletics coach Purushottam Rai, who was to receive this year's Dronacharya award in the lifetime category.
The 79-year-old Rai, who was to be bestowed the honour on Saturday (August 29) and had even participated in the dress rehearsal for the first-of-its-kind virtual ceremony, died on Friday (August 28) evening after suffering a cardiac arrest in Bengaluru.
"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," the minister tweeted from his official handle.
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. @KirenRijiju condoled his death and said, "His contribution will always be remembered."Kiren Rijiju Office (@RijijuOffice) August 29, 2020
The National Sports Awards ceremony will be held virtually due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Rai was to receive the Dronacharya award from President Ram Nath Kovind in the lifetime category.
Rai began his coaching career after securing a diploma from Netaji Institute of Sports in 1974. He coached top athletes such as Olympian quartermiler Vandana Rao, heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa, Ashwini Nachappa, Murali Kuttan, M K Asha, E B Shyla, Rosa Kutty and G G Pramila.
Rai had also coached the Indian team for the 1987 World Athletics Championship, the 1988 Asian Track and Field Championships and the 1999 South Asian Games.
Since 2012, August 29 is observed as National Sports Day in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand, who won gold medals in Olympics for India in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
(With PTI inputs)