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Asian Games champions ignored for torch relay

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Asian Games Torch that was lit in Doha on Sunday will arrive here on Tuesday on its first stop through its 50,000km journey over 55 days.

The flame will be merged with the `Eternal Flame' of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) at the National Stadium, the venue of the inaugural Asian Games in 1951, at a ceremony on Wednesday evening before being carried through a 4.5km route by around 40 runners including eminent sports personalities.

As had happened at the time of the Olympic Torch relay in 2004, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has picked the names for the Asiad Torch relay without including some of the more prominent sportspersons.

Obviously in an effort to avoid any controversy, the IOA President, Suresh Kalmadi, who addressed a press conference on Monday, tried to give the impression that it was a "Delhi Government show" and the runners were chosen with the Delhi-based personalities getting the preference.

Shocking

Yet, the exclusion of Sriram Singh, one of only six Indian athletes to have made the Olympics finals, is shocking. So too those of Hari Chand and Praveen Kumar, both Asian Games gold medallists like Sriram. All three are Delhi-based athletes.

Among the Delhi-based hockey players who have been ignored are Ajitpal Singh, who led the country to its only World Cup triumph, Ashok Kumar and Harbinder Singh.

The list of exclusion is long. But just to name a few more who are Delhi-based: Eight time national badminton champion Madhumita Bisht, another badminton star of yesteryears, Damayanti Tambe, former table tennis champions Manjeet Dua and Indu Puri, hockey players R.S. Bhola, Nandy Singh, Rajinder Singh (Sr) and M.P. Singh, wrestlers Sudesh Kumar and Prem Nath.

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