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Sporting legends? We just don’t care

Past stars won’t carry baton in the last leg; the honour is just for current ones, reports Saurabh Duggal.

other Updated: Sep 30, 2010 23:55 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times

Athletes who have brought the nation glory, no matter how obscure their sport may be, deserve respect.

The reality is that they are not getting it. Forget about the obscure, even Indian legends seem to have been relegated to a lower rung, by those running the sporting establishment.

The three best-known faces of Indian Olympic sports — PT Usha, Milkha Singh and Gurbachan Singh Randhawa — have been ignored for the prestigious last lap of the Games Baton Relay.

According to the OC, the six current athletes who have been appointed brand ambassadors for the Games will be the ones who will carry the Queen's Baton in the last leg of its journey.

“It is always the case that former medallists and champions are involved in the last lap. This is a tradition, which was followed even during the 1982 Asian Games. It is a symbolic way of giving veteran athletes respect, and to tell them that their efforts — and the glory they brought to the country --- have not been forgotten,” said Milkha Singh.

The Baton reached Delhi on Thursday, and the last lap will be run at the opening ceremony on Sunday.

Veteran athletes have very little to look forward to. After quitting the sport, they get forgotten and the spotlight shifts to upcoming athletes.

From the high of being cheered by thousands, they are suddenly normal people. For them, being involved in events like these is a brief escape from everyday life, and an opportunity to feel adored once again.

Randhawa agreed with Milkha's views. “I have no information about the last lap of the relay,” he said.

“Even if they chose not to invite me, there are a number of other veterans; legends who have won laurels for India, including multiple medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games.

“People like Parveen Kumar and PT Usha should definitely have been part of this historic occasion.”

Sources said the decision to ignore these athletes was taken by the executive board of the Organising Committee. Another in the long list of snubs for Indian sporting legends!

First Published: Sep 30, 2010 23:52 IST