In a massive tribute, thousands of students came together to felicitate KP Thomas, Kerala’s celebrated athletics coach and Dronacharya awardee, on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The event, titled Guruvandanam, was held at the Pala Municipal Stadium in Kottayam on Sunday.
Inaugurated by the state Minister for Electricity MM Mani, the function was also attended by KM Mani, chief of Kerala Congress (Mani) and various sports personalities, including national champion Shiny Wilson. The event also witnessed the launch of KP Thomas’s autobiography, Empowerment of Nation Through Sports, by MM Mani and KM Mani.
“In training more than 5,000 students and turning them into fine athletes, Thomas master has done a great service to the country,” MM Mani said in his address.
Having spent more than 40 years in training athletes, the coach, lovingly called ‘Thomas Mash’ by his students, is still active in coaching. Under his training, which encompasses military-like discipline, India saw many skilled athletes bagging top prizes in various tournaments and championships.
Shiny, who was an 800 m national champion in the 1980s-90s, Anju Bobby George, bronze medallist at the 2003 world championship, the recent 2017 national junior meet hurdles silver medal winner Aparna Nair, to name a few, performed glorious feats under his guidance.
The government of India had honoured the athletics coach with the prestigious Dronacharya Award for outstanding coaches in Sports and Games in 2013 in recognition of his efforts and dedication.
Speaking at the event, the humble Thomas master described it as a ‘priceless’ honour, with several of his former students having flown down to Kerala from various parts of the globe just to make his 75th birthday a special one.
Thomas master’s only request to the government was to allot some land to set up a training centre, yet again showing his regard for his students.
“If the government allocates us at least an 8-acre plot, I would like to set up a training centre and I guarantee that Olympians will bloom from this initiative,” he said, addressing the ministers present.