New Delhi: Indian Olympic Association today created history by naming a former Hockey Olympian - Ajitpal Singh, as Chef de Mission of the Indian Contingent for the upcoming London Olympic Games. Three time Olympian Ajitpal, 65, who led the country to its only victory in the World cup in 1975, so far is the first active sportspersons to be honored by being appointed as Chef de Mission of the Olympic contingent.
Making this announcement IOA Acting President Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra said Senior Vice Presidents Tarlochan Singh and BP Basaya will be the IOA’s delegates for the Games.
Prof Malhotra said Ajitpal Singh’s choice as Chef de Mission was unanimous and “We have fulfilled yet another promise of giving the sportspersons a major role in the affairs of the Association”.
He said he was confident that Ajitpal will live up to the high expectations, and will be a true ambassador of the country.” It is not an ornamental post, it carries lot of responsibilities and Ajitpal as a leader will have to play the role which will bring glory to the country”.
Prof Malhotra also added that by appointing a sportsperson as Chef de Mission “IOA members have silenced their critics once again who always used to say that athletes are being ignored in the functioning of the sports bodies”.
“We have set the trend, and I hope it will continue” he added.
IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh called it a historic decision saying “an Olympic medal winner will be leading the Indian contingent in the Olympics for the first time”. He supported Prof Malhotra’s views about sportspersons given their share in the IOA.
Prof Malhotra further added ”before this also another far reaching decision was taken when IOA decided to share all the sponsors money with the qualified sportspersons”.
He said the decision will create new energy and excitement amongst the sportspersons in the country.
Giving his reaction on phone, Ajitpal, who is holidaying in Goa, said he was humbled by this decision of the IOA” I am grateful to the IOA Acting President and other members who have reposed faith in me. I am truly humbled. I will try my best to live up to the expectations”.
“I am confident that India will win more medals this time, because the qualified sportspersons are now focused to give their best for the country” he said adding “I know how the sportspersons feel after day’s hectic schedule in the Olympics. Winning and losing is part of the Game. Though I will be there for the sportspersons but I will also be a strict disciplinarian”.
Ajitpal, considered as best centre half of his time represented India in 1968,72,76 Olympics- He also played in three World cups 1971, 1973 and 1975 and two Asian Games in 1970 and 1974.
By Indian Sports News Network