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Sakshi Malik

Mr. N. Ramachandran, President, IOA awarded the “OCA Award of Merit”

The Olympic Council of Asia has bestowed the prestigious OCA award of Merit on the President of Indian Olympic Association, Mr N. Ramchandran for his outstanding contribution to sports in Asia.

The award was presented to him by the OCA President, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah on Sunday, 25th September, 2016 at the OCA General Assembly being held in Da Nang, Vietnam. Present on the occasion was the International Olympic Committee President, Dr Thomas Bach. Incidentally it was only a month ago that Mr Ramachandran had received the IOC's Olympic Order for his conributions to the Olympic movement from Dr Bach himself at the Rio Olympics.
The latest recognition makes Mr Ramachandran the only IOA President to have received the two prestigious awards and that too in close succession.

Delighted on what he said, “is another glorious moment in my life,” Mr Ramachandran said, “ I accept the award in all humility and I take pride in dedicating this honour to all the athletes in India.”

A multi-faced personality, firmly rooted in business and social welfare projects, Mr Ramachandran's big passion for sports and sports administration is well known. It is in the latter area that he carved a niche for himself. People who had known him recall his initial interest in swimming in the nineties and then to developing the gruelling sport of triathlon . Such was his involvement that he founded the Tamil Nadu Triathlon Association and played a key role at the national level to set the path for India to make a mark in Asia. Along with giving thrust to the sport, he also grew up in the administration and became a honorary life member of the Asian Triathlon Federation Executive Board before long. Triathlon in India grew under his patronage and bringing an Australian coach Brett Mace was his idea for all round development. In the arena C. Amudha, who came up from the fishermen community grew up to become Asian gold medallist in Triathlon and there are no two opinions as to who gave her all the inspiration.

A squash player at the MCC , Mr Ramachandran understood the difficulties that this sport faced in coming into the open from being a largely club preserve. He took up its cause. Making judicious use of Government schemes and his own initiative, he envisioned a modern squash academy in Chennai with structured training programme as the base. The year 2000 saw all this come to a reality with Malaysian expert Maj S. Manian in the helm and national coach Cyrus Poncha as his assistant. What ISA did was to open a world class facility for young aspiring squash players and kindle dreams of big achievements. The results subsequently gave ample proof how squash became a much talked about sport. With medals in Asian Games., Asian Championship, world championship not to forget individual honours that came India's way, squash grew in stature. The pinnacle was touched when India won the Glasgow Commonwealth Games doubles gold (Joshna chinappa and dipika Pallikal Karthik) and later the men's team clinched the historic gold in the Incheon Asian Games, both in 2014. Along the way Mr Ramchandran himself rose in squash administration. From Asian Squash President in 2001 to the ultimate honour that few Indians ever received, of being the President of the World Squash Federation in 2008 formed a glittering chapter in his career. He was re-elected and continues to be in that post.

As the WSF President it was his ambition to get squash into the Olympics and towards this end he and his team had left no stone unturned in what was a determined effort that brought together all the world's leading squash players too. Getting the sport in the shortlist itself was a major victory but squash could reach only the door steps of the Olympics. This is a regret he carries but as he had said, “I did my best with my team. Our efforts were well appreciated by world leaders in sports. We have now helped pave the way. Squash's entry will follow, for sure.” Easily an administrator with the most experience even on the international plane, Mr Ramachandran's elevation as the President of the Indian Olympic Association in February 2014 was another grandstand moment in his glowing career. It was a testimony to his industry and integrity. Though he faced difficult times, he showed the tact and diplomacy to tide over them. He was happy to see India send by far the largest contingent until now to the Olympics 2016 in Rio.

Such has been his acceptance in various forums that Mr Ramachandran has been in several other prestigious positions. A few being Member of the EB of the Commonwealth Games 2008-09, International Relations Commission of the Association of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and in the Advisory committee of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). He is also currently the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Olympic Association.

For one who has so much in his hands, Mr Ramachandran has always been a picture of serenity. Every honour for him, is effectively an 'honour for Indian sports.” It is this philosophy that drives him on and keeps his passion intact.