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HI honours 'Golden Greats' of Indian hockey

June 24, 2012 18:35 IST

In a first, Hockey India (HI), on Sunday, felicitated 34 yesteryear stars of the game with a one-time benefit of Rs 2 lakh each for winning gold medals in the previous Olympic Games.

The grand felicitation-cum-Olympic team send-off ceremony was held in Delhi, where HI provided a common platform for "Golden Greats" of Indian hockey to share their experiences with the present players.

Out of the 34 living Olympians to have received the one-time monetary benefit from the HI coffers, 26 were present on the occasion.

The notable Olympic gold medal winners who were present on the occasion were Leslie Claudius (1948 London, 1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne), Keshav Dutt (1948 London, 1952 Helsinki), Jaswant Rajput (1948 London, 1952 Helsinki), Raghbir Lal (1948 London, 1956 London) and Harpal Kaushik (1956 Melbourne, 1964 Tokyo and silver in 1960 Rome) among others.

S M Ali Syed, Charanjit Singh, Nandy Singh and Balbir Singh Senior gave the function a miss due to health reasons while A S Rana, Allan Sheofield, Darshan Singh and Gurdev Singh were out of the country.

During the function, which was also attended by BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Sports Minister Ajay Maken and Indian Olympic Association acting president V K Malhotra among others, HI secretary general Narinder Batra said in the future the national federation will also honour the Asiad and World Cup winning teams.

Even though it came late, all the former players seemed overwhelmed by the honour bestowed on them for their achievements.

Member of the 1980 Moscow gold medal-winning team, M M Somaya lauded HI for the initiative.

"It was wonderful to have received the honour after so many years. By this function, HI provided us a platform to meet old friends and former teammates," he said.

Somaya's Moscow Olympics teammate Zafar Iqbal expressed similar views.

"We were not that keen about the monetary reward but the honour which was bestowed on us mattered a lot," he said.

When asked about India's chances in the upcoming Olympics, they sounded realistic.

"Our first target should be the semi-finals as we haven't qualified for semi-finals at the Olympics since the last 32 years. I feel this team is capable enough to do that," said Gurbux Singh, a gold medallist in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

1980 Moscow Olymics gold-medal-winning captain V Baskaran added: "I feel we should be happy if we can finish among the top 6 teams."

Complete list of players to felicitated: V Baskaran (Gold-1980 Moscow), Rajinder Singh (Gold-1980 Moscow), B B Chetri (Gold-1980 Moscow), Sylvanus Dung Dung (Gold-1980 Moscow), Davinder Singh Garcha (Gold-1980 Moscow), Gurmail Singh (Gold-1980 Moscow), Ravinder Pal (Gold-1980 Moscow), M M Somaya (Gold-1980 Moscow), M K Kaushik (Gold-1980 Moscow), Charanjit Kumar (Gold-1980 Moscow), Surinder Singh Sodhi (Gold-1980 Moscow), Mervyn Fernandes (Gold-1980 Moscow), Zafar Iqbal (Gold-1980 Moscow), Mohd Shahid (Gold-1980 Moscow), Balbir Singh (Gold-1964 Tokyo; Bronze-1968 Mexico), Dharam Singh Mann ((Gold-1964 Tokyo; Bronze-1968 Mexico), Harbinder Singh (Gold-1964 Tokyo; Bronze-1968 Mexico; 1972 Munich), Gurbux Singh (Gold-1964 Tokyo; Bronze-1968 Mexico), A S Bakshi (Gold-1956 Melbourne), Harpal Kaushik (Gold-1956 Melbourne; 1964 Tokyo; Silver-1960 Rome), Hardayal Singh (Gold-1956 Melbourne), R S Bhola (Gold-1956 Melbourne; Silver- 1960 Rome), Raghbir Lal (Gold-1952 Helsinki; 1956 Melbourne), Jaswant Rajout (Gold-1948 London; 1952 Helsinki), Keshav Dutt (Gold-1948 London; 1952 Helsinki); Leslie Claudius (Gold-1948 London; 1952 Helsinki; 1956 Melbourne), S M Ali Syed (Gold-1964 Tokyo), Charanjit Singh (Gold-1964 Tokyo; Silver-1960 Rome), G Nandy Singh (Gold-1948 London; 1952 Helsinki), Balbir Singh Senior ((Gold-1948 London; 1952 Helsinki; 1956 Melbourne), A S Rana (Gold-1980 Moscow), Allan Sheofield (Gold-1980 Moscow), Darshan Singh (Gold-1964 Tokyo), Gurdev Singh (Gold-1980 Moscow).

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