The 74-year-old left office as SAI denied him a new contract.

The former national coach Bahadur Singh has said that the collective efforts of athletes, coaches and the federation have led Indian athletics to new heights over the past 25 years.

Bahadur Singh resigned from the post of chief coach of Indian athletics team last week after 25 years as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) denied him a contract extension on the basis of age restrictions.

“If India has risen to be a leading nation in Asian athletics, it is because of one man but because of team-work by athletes, coaches, the Athletics Federation of India, the Sports Authority of India and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. But if our schools let our children play sport and give them the facilities, India can be a world power,” said Bahadur Singh.

He also pointed out that India needs an indoor training facility for athletics and remarked, “We spend a lot of money in sending our athletes overseas when the climate at home does not permit training. India badly needs an indoor facility.”

Saluting the 74-year-old athlete-turned-coach, Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju recalled that he had been motivated by Bahadur Singh’s feat to be a shot putter himself in his school days.

He said, “Bahadur Singh has been an inspirational personality over five decades and rendered great service with his commitment, dedication and discipline.”

Athletics legends Sriram Singh, PT Usha and Anju Bobby George shared their memories of the retired coach. The 1976 Olympic Games 800m finalist, Sriram Singh recalled they had both started their Asian Games careers in Tehran in 1974 and completed the NIS coaching diploma in 1980.

Meanwhile, PT Usha, fourth in the 1984 Olympic Games 400m hurdles, recalled that she was a teenager when she travelled with Bahadur Singh to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. She said, “He was already a renowned athlete and inspired everyone with his hard work and dedication to training. As a chief coach, he would motivate the coaches to do their best.”

As a shot putter, Singh won back-to-back Asian Games gold medals in Bangkok (1978) and New Delhi (1982) to add to the silver he won in Tehran (1974). He also won a medal in each of the four Asian track and field meets held in Marikina (1973), Seoul (1975), Tokyo (1979) and Tokyo (1981).

He competed in the Moscow Olympics in 1980 as well. He was given the Arjuna Award in 1976 and the Dronacharya Award in 1998. Singh was conferred the Padma Shri in 1983.