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Olympians join the chorus

india Updated: Jan 13, 2010 00:17 IST
Amit Sharma
Amit Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The rebellion, it seems, is spreading like wildfire. Hockey Olympians and World Cuppers on Tuesday joined forces with the rebellious players, threatening to return their medals and other prestigious trophies to the President of India in an expression of solidarity.

“Don't call it a strike. It is a fight for their dues, for justice and, above all, a struggle for survival,” said Balbir Singh, a member of the hockey team that won bronze in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and gold in 1966 Asian Games.

“All veteran hockey players are in touch with each other and soon we will join hands to save hockey from being murdered. If need be, we will return our medals to the President and the Prime Minister of India to lodge a symbolic protest,” Balbir told the Hindustan Times.

Another Olympian, Hardeep Singh Grewal, who represented India in the 1984 Olympic Games, the 1986 World Cup and was a member of the bronze medal-winning team in the 1986 Asian Games, said all former Olympians were keeping pace with the events unfolding in Pune and Delhi. “Soon, we will convene a meeting to decide the date and venue for the symbolic protest.

“Veterans like us have nothing to offer other than support and no better way than to return the medals. It would be a symbolic protest to awaken the government and make it aware of the rich history of the game in India,” said Gurbax Singh, a member of the team that finished third in the Mexico Olympics.

Grewal said the way the players were being treated was not just humiliating for them but also demoralising for the future generation.

“After seeing them fighting for their dues, why would the future generation ever play hockey?” he asked.

“We need a body that can not just look after the interests of players but also market the game properly,” said Charanjit Singh.