Olympian’s wish to see donated medals again remains unfulfilled

Olympian’s wish to see donated medals again remains unfulfilled

Sculptor Manjit Singh gives final touches to the statue of Olympian Balbir Singh Senior in Moga. Tribune photo

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25

“I might not see my blazer and medals again but I am still happy. I was able to don them during my playing days. I wish I am able to see them again in my lifetime. I had worked really hard in the field to earn them,” legendry hockey Olympian Balbir Singh Senior had told The Tribune almost three years ago.

However, with the death of the hockey icon on Monday, his wish remained unfulfilled. While police probe still continues to locate the hockey legend’s blazer, the search has stretched a little too far.

In 2018, almost 20 years after the precious memorabilia was donated by the legendary Olympian to the Sports Authority of India (SAI)-run Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, the items were reported missing. The Patiala police had registered an FIR pertaining to the theft, with NIS officials acknowledging that the “blazer of the hockey star may have been missing/stolen”.

Other than his Olympic medals and the Padma Shri award, his Melbourne Olympics blazer (when he was the captain), 36 medals, including Tokyo Asiad (1958) silver, and over 100 rare pictures were donated by the former hockey legend, never to be seen again.

The role of certain SAI staffers is still under probe, even as an insider claimed some senior officials had tried to save the erring staff “as evident from no probe being conducted” for many years. It took them years to lodge a formal complaint and another year for the cops to register a FIR. “I will not be surprised if the stolen items come in the international market and are up for sale in an auction,” a former NIS official stated. The 96-year-old Olympian had donated his medals and blazer to the then SAI secretary in 1985 for display at a proposed sports museum in Delhi. Later, enquiries before the start of the London Olympics in 2012 revealed that SAI had no clue where these were.

Amarinder offers condolences

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday expressed profound grief over the demise of hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior. In a condolence message, the Chief Minister recalled the immense contribution of Balbir Singh towards the promotion of sports, especially hockey. Meanwhile, the SGPC also mourned the death of Balbir Singh Senior.

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