Steeplechaser Sudha Singh, national wrestling coach promoted by Indian Railways

Two-time Asian Games medal-winning steeplechaser Sudha Singh and national wrestling coach Kuldeep Singh were Wednesday promoted by their employer -- the Indian Railways -- as part of a “liberalised” policy to encourage athletes and their mentors.

The policy was first announced at the felicitation ceremony for this year’s Commonwealth Games medal winners under which athletes and coaches were promised out-of-turn promotions for medals won at the Commonwealth and the Asian Games. The athletes became eligible for such elevation if they represented the country in at least two Olympic Games.

“Amongst the first beneficiary of the policy is Sh. Kuldeep Singh, the Chief Coach of Indian Women Wrestling Team whose orders for promotion to the Gazetted post of Assistant Commercial Manager have been issued in Northern Railway,” the Railways Sports Promotion Board said in a statement.

Singh’s wards in Indian wrestling include Olympic bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold-medallist Vinesh Phogat among others. Both Malik and Phogat are also Railway employees.

“Ms. Sudha Singh, double Olympian athlete of Indian Railways has also been granted promotion to officer grade in Indian Railways in terms of this new policy,” the Railways stated.

Sudha won a silver at the Jakarta Asian Games this year, adding to a gold won in the 2010 edition in Guangzhou. The 32-year-old, who hails from Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh, had been demanding a job in the state government’s sports department.

“It is felt that such proactive steps would not only encourage the sportspersons and coaches to do better but will also go a long way in taking the Indian Sports to new high,” the RSPB statement read.

One of the largest employers in Indian sports, the Railways lost top athletes like star boxer Vijender Singh due to its strict promotion policy in the past. The liberalised policy provides for out of turn promotion to coaches in officer grade whose wards win medals at the Olympics, Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games.