Big Ben in Goa, brings two Salgaocar club hopefuls
Two-time Olympic medallist Ben Johnson is in India in a new avatar. Accompanying two young Canadian brothers of Indian origin to Goa to attend trials at I-League football champions Salgaocar on Saturday, the athlete says he was always passionate about soccer.Updated: Jul 30, 2011 01:50 IST
Two-time Olympic medallist Ben Johnson is in India in a new avatar. Accompanying two young Canadian brothers of Indian origin to Goa to attend trials at I-League football champions Salgaocar on Saturday, the athlete says he was always passionate about soccer.
The two youngsters, Guveer, 18, and Karamveer Tumbar, 17, have been training with Canada-based Johnson for the past four years to develop their stamina at Ontario’s Turner Fenton Secondary School.The Tumbar siblings are strikers and Johnson, the controversial athlete who was stripped of his 100 metre gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for failing a dope test, says they can surprise Indian defenders with their bursting pace.
“The football coach at Turners wanted me to develop the boys’ stamina and I have been working with them since 2007. Both Gurveer and Karamveer are good sprinters and with their lightning speed they can put any defence in trouble,” the sprinter who won two bronze medals (100m, 4x100) from the Los Angeles Olympics, told IANS from Panaji.
Asked why his wards chose India, Johnson, said: “Their parents hail from Punjab and the boys want to represent India. It would be great if they can impress the coach at the trials. Eventually, their dream is to represent India.”
Johnson, a Jamaican by birth, emigrated to Canada in 1976 at the age of 15 to train under famous Canadian athletics coach Charlie Francis at York University.
Recalling his sprinting days, Johnson said: “I started as a footballer and was a striker at Toronto Links in 1990s when the teams mostly had Italians. Though I strengthened my basics in athletics I never lost my passion for soccer.
“My success as a sprinter is because of the fact that I was a very good athlete. I feel whatever sport one plays it is important to be a strong athlete.”
Johnson’s passion for soccer also saw him working as a trainer for Argentine legend Diego Maradona in 1997.
“It was great working with Diego. He is a great athlete and that is the main reason why he could score so many goals beating defenders, who were twice his size,” he said
The Tumbars also concurred with their coach as they feel their sprinting skills have helped them to become better. On training with Johnson, Guveer said: “Our football coach at Turner Fenton wanted us to develop stamina and Ben readily agreed. He has been of great help.”
First Published: Jul 29, 2011 23:01 IST