Hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior’s 1956 Olympics blazer and the 1958 Asian Games medal, along with other memorabilia, have been missing from the National Sports Museum at Patiala.
To make the youth draw inspiration from his sporting achievements, Balbir had donated his blazer, 36 medals and around 30 rare photographs to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in 1985 to be displayed at the sports museum at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
Later, the SAI decided to merge the sports museum in Delhi with the one at National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, and the articles were shifted to the Patiala museum.
According to a letter No SAI/MA/Shift/97-98 dated February 20, 1998, the NIS Patiala received the articles from the corporate office of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The Patiala museum received around 200 articles, including Balbir’s Melbourne Olympics blazer, rare photographs and other memorabilia.
But the blazer and the 1958 Asiad medal are not on display at the NIS museum and their whereabouts are not known. SAI officials at Patiala have informed the SAI director general that they could not locate the blazer and the medal at the museum. “We have sounded the headquarters in Delhi,” said NIS Patiala regional director SS Roy.
Some of Balbir’s old pictures, including the one of the 1952 Olympics hockey team with the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, team photos of the 1948 and 1956 Olympic teams and the photo of receiving the gold medal during the 1956 Olympics, which were donated to the SAI, are there at the NIS museum.
The memorabilia was shifted from the Delhi museum to the NIS museum and these items were there in the old inventory but some of these articles are missing from the latest inventory.
Roy said they had gone through all articles displayed at the museum, along with the storeroom.
Though they had a blazer of Col Balbir Singh (1968 Olympics), they couldn’t find Balbir Senior’s blazer, he added.