Gold winning hockey team of 1964 Tokyo Olympics felicitated
New Delhi: The Sports Ministry on Wednesday honoured the members of the the Indian hockey team that beat Pakistan to win a famous gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of that stupendous feat at the quadrennial extravaganza.
Five of the eight surviving members of the team led by star midfielder Charanjit Singh were present at the their felicitation ceremony at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
Besides Charanjit, Harbinder Singh, Balbir Singh Jr, Dharam Singh and Ali Sayeed graced the occasion. All of them along with the families of the deceased were awarded Rs 7.5 lakh each. Haripal Kaushik, Gurbax Singh and Darshan Singh missed the function owing to personal commitments.
The families of players who have passed away --- Shankar Laxman, RA Christie, Prithpal Singh, Mohinder Lal, Jagjit Singh, Rajinder Singh, Joginder Singh, Bandu Patil, Udham Singh, were also present to collect the cheques.
The gold in the Japanese capital was India's seventh in the quadrennial event with the last one coming in 1980 at Moscow, ending the fondly missed 'golden era' for the sport in the country.
"It was a really nice gesture by the government. It has been so long since that moment. Some of my teammates are no more and it was very emotional to meet their families," said center forward Harbinder.
"There is no comparison on how we played in that era and how the game has become now. The challenges of playing on grass were different and now it is a different ball game on the astro turf," added the 71-year-old.
Though of late India team has shown improvement, highlighted with the Asian Games gold, another member of the 'Class of 64' Sayeed feels the sport has change for worse.
"How will you succeed when no hockey is being played in schools and colleges?" asked Sayeed.
"The players are surely paid better now but the system needs to improve if we are bring back the golden days again," he said.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, sports secretary Ajit Sharan, SAI DG Jiji Thomson were also present among others. An exhibition match between the India seniors and juniors preceded the ceremony.
Sonowal also felicitated the medal winning contingent of the 2014 Para Asian Games held in Incheon. India bagged 33 medals at Games including three gold, 14 silver and 16 bronze.
The gold medallists received a cash prize of Rs 20 lakh each while the silver and bronze winner got Rs 10 lakh and Rs 6 lakh respectively.
Para swimmer Sharath Gayakwad had won six medals in Incheon, breaking PT Usha's record of highest medals earned by an Indian at any multi-discipline event.