Wednesday, Oct 15, 2003
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By Our Sports Reporter
Union Sports Minister Vikram Verma (second from left) and Finnish Ambassador Glean Lindholm (left), seen with Keshav Datt and Nandi Singh who were part of the gold medal-winning hockey team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, at a felicitation function to mark the 50th anniversary of the Games in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Commander Grahanandan Singh, a member of India's gold medal-winning hockey team, accepted this on behalf of the 1952 Indian contingent.
Recounting the days of pure amateurism, Commander Nandi Singh, as he is popularly known, said it was the strict discipline and sheer willpower that helped India win the gold medal.
"In Helsinki, we were exposed to its unique climatic conditions. There used to be night only for about two hours and again the sun would rise; so we were kept in the room with the thickest curtain available and made to sleep through for six hours,'' Cdr. Nandi Singh said.
Also present on the occasion were Cdr. Nandi Singh's teammates, Keshav Datt and Raghbir Lal Sharma.
Besides the gold in hockey, the Helsinki Olympics played a major role in shaping the personal life of Datt. "We were in Copenhagen (Denmark) for a 14-day acclimatisation camp before the Games and there he (Mr. Keshav Datt) met his future wife,'' was how Cdr. Nandi Singh recalled.
On Tuesday, the Datt couple was very much there to accept the special medal conferred by the Finnish Embassy.
Others felicitated were cyclists Netai Chand Bysack and Tarit Kumar Sett, gymnasts Kushi Ram and Vir Singh, weightlifter Eswara Kamieni, and footballers Chandan Singh Rawat, Sailen Manna and Samir Roy.
India had finished 26th in the Olympics with one gold and a bronze medal. Wrestler Khashaba Jadhav, who died a few years ago, had bagged the bronze. Mr. Jadhav's wife, Kusum, received the medal on his behalf.
The Ambassador of Finland, Glen Lindholm, described the 1952 Games as the last Olympics of `genuine festival of sport.' He said Finland had planned to celebrate the 50 years of Olympic Games in Helsinki and that the function and exhibition here were part of the ceremony. The caravan would move throughout Asia and then to Europe before ending in Helsinki later next year.
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