India's famous athletic trainer, Joginder Singh Saini, dies

BENGALURU Joginder Singh Saini , one of the oldest in India Athletics The coaches who guided the best athletes for almost three decades died in Patiala . He was 90 years old.

Saini, who retired from the National Sports Institute (NIS) in the 1960s, emerged as one of the best coaches along with Kenneth Bosen, Jagmohan Singh, Francis and CM Muthiah. Veterans remember that Saini was an integral part of the Indian team in the main matches from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

“He was the coach at the 1962 Asian Games camp in Bangalore and that was the first time I met him. He was the one who shaped people like Bogeshwar Barua (800m gold, 1966 Asiad) and Edward Sequiera (5000m silver, 1970 Asiad) and made them champions champions, ”said former athlete and 17-time sprint national champion Kenneth Powell.

“The NIS started in 1961. It should be from the first batch with people like Bosen and Muthiah. He trained some of the best middle distance runners in India, recalled Powell, a 1964 Olympic with Milkha Singh.

Saini was appointed head coach of the then Amateur Athletics Federation of India in 1970.


Charles Borromeo, one of Saini's best students who won 800m gold at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, said the best coach got the best of athletes in big games.

“We call it intellectual sports training. Saini was the head coach of the Indian team in Delhi Asiad and had the greatest ability to fine-tune an athlete for an international competition scheduled on a particular date. He taught at the NIS and at the same time worked as a national head coach. In the 80s and 90s, we only had training and nothing else and he used to be the best at that, ”Borromeo told TOI.

“He is the man who improved most of the middle and long distance runners and walkers. Walking was his favorite event. His student Chand Ram won the 20km race gold in '82 Asiad. He has been a wonderful mentor.

"During his days, the technical training and hard work was to the fore. He was a man who had multiple capabilities. He was an Athletics coach, team man, organizer and managing officials. Saini was the man who connected North and South India. If there was one man who could connect best with South Indian athletes, it was Saini,” Borromeo said and added that it was Saini who fine-tuned the skills of Hari Chand, who won a 5000 and 10,000m double at the 1978 Asiad.

From Shivnath Singh to Gulab Chand and Bhadur Prasad, Saini was her mentor, and among women, the main names include Shiny Wilson and Kamaljeet Sandhu. In 1997, Saini was honored with the Dronacharya prize. A former athlete said it was Saini who motivated Gurbachan Singh Randhawa to take decathlon and won the gold of the Asian Games in 1962.

“I am truly saddened to hear of the passing away of our colleague, my chief coach and mentor, Mr. JS Saini,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said. “He loved Athletics and contributed to Athletics Federation of India till his last day,” he added.

Saini Saab, as he was affectionately called by the Indian Athletics fraternity, participated in coaching until 2004 and later became an advisor to AFI.