Updated: May 11, 2021 3:22:00 pm
As the country deals with the second wave of the coronavirus that has seen daily cases and death tolls surging with every passing day, India’s sporting fraternity has also been affected, with those having represented the country nationally and internationally succumbing to the virus.
The coronavirus outbreak not only impacted the sports community of India and cancelled some of the major tournaments across sports but also claimed many lives including notable figures of the fraternity. Here are a list of sports figures that India lost to the global pandemic:
India lost three of its former hockey players in May, 2021. Ravindra Pal Singh, 60, and Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, 66, from the Class of 1980, the bunch that took India to the summit of world hockey at the Moscow Olympics, succumbed to the Covid-19-related ailments on the same day – May 8.
Kaushik, a right-out, passed away in the national capital after a three-week battle with the virus and leaves behind a legacy full of success and recognition on the hockey turf, both as player and coach. The former coach of the national women’s team guided the unfancied bunch to the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal, which was one of the inspirations for the hit movie Chak de India. But Kaushik had also taken the men’s team to the top of the podium at the 1998 Bangkok Asiad, the first time they had been there in 32 years.
Former player George Fernandez, 67, who was battling COVID-19 in Bengaluru, died on May 10 due to complications related to the disease. Fernandez, a former Assistant Customs Commissioner (Karnataka), had represented the Indian junior team in 1975 playing as a forward. He also played for his home state Karnataka at the junior level in the year 1975-76.
Earlier this month, Hockey India mourned the death of former India junior player Sanjib Barla, who died in Rourkela due to COVID-19 related complications. He was 34 and was part of the Indian junior men’s camp in 2009, played for Odisha in various domestic hockey competitions. He also worked for Western Railways in Mumbai.
Vivek Yadav, a former Rajasthan leg-spinner and a member of their Ranji Trophy-winning squad, died of coronavirus-related complications on May 5, 2021. Yadav, who played 18 first-class matches and picked up 57 wickets, featured in the 2010-11 Ranji Trophy final, his finest hour in a brief domestic career. Yadav was undergoing treatment for cancer and had gone to the hospital for his chemotherapy, where he was tested and returned positive for COVID-19.
Former BCCI selector and Rajasthan captain Kishan Rungta died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Jaipur on May 1. He was 88. Rungta served as a national selector from Central Zone in 1998. He played 59 first class games between 1953 to 1970, scoring 2717 runs.
Chetan Chauhan, former India batsman, died at the age of 73 in August, 2020. Chauhan played for India in 40 Tests and seven ODIs between 1969 and 1981, scoring 2,237 runs. He formed a formidable top-order partnership with Sunil Gavaskar, with the duo combining for 3,127 runs at an average of 54.85 in Tests, including 11 century stands. The highlight was their opening stand of 213 at The Oval in 1979, when Gavaskar’s double century set up a famous win for India.
Sanjay Dobal, a popular club cricketer who was part of the support staff of the Delhi U-16 team that became national champion in 2012, passed away at the Capital’s Venkateshwar Hospital in June, 2020 at the age of 53 due to complications from Covid-19. Dobal was popular among the well-known Delhi cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Mithun Manhas.
India’s 1962 Asian Games gold-winning team member Fortunato Franco died on May 10, 2021 in Goa. He was 84. One of India’s finest mid-fielders, Franco was a part of Indian football’s golden era between 1960-64. Franco was a part of the 1960 Rome Olympics squad but didn’t get a game. However, he was an integral part of the 1962 Asian Games gold winning team in Jakarta.
Former India international footballer Ahmed Hussain breathed his last at the age of 89 on April 16 in Bengaluru. A defender, Hussain was also a part of the Indian Olympics football team that put on a fantastic show in Melbourne (1956) where they thrashed Australia 4-2 to eventually finish fourth in the tournament. After retiring from football, he took up coaching and joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI). He was posted in Bengaluru where he eventually settled down.
The former Blue Tigers’ Olympian Nikhil Nandy breathed his last on December 29, 2020. The half-back was most famously a part of the Indian squad that finished fourth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He was also a part of the side that notched-up a semi-final finish in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Former Maharashtra player E Hamsakoya died in June, 2020 at a hospital in Malappuram, Kerala at 61. A wing back during his playing days, he was called up for the national team camp twice but never played for the country.
Chandro Tomar, nicknamed ‘Shooter Dadi’, passed away at the age of 89 due to Covid-19 on Friday. She had been admitted to a hospital in Meerut on April 26 after she had complained of difficulty breathing. Hailing from the Baghpat village in Uttar Pradesh, Tomar was 60-plus when she picked up the gun for the first time but went on to win many national competitions for veterans, her feats ultimately inspiring the award-winning Bollywood movie ‘Saand ki Aankh’.
Arjuna awardee and ace para-badminton player Ramesh Tikaram died of coronavirus in a hospital in Bengaluru on July 16, 2020.
International bodybuilder Jagdish Lad, who belonged to Navi Mumbai, passed away in Baroda on April 30, 2021 due to covid at the age of just 34. He had won the ‘Bharat Shri’ title. Lad had won a silver medal in the World Championship and a gold medal in the Mr India competition.
Meanwhile, there are those in the cricket community have lost their loved ones. Bhavnagar-born left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya’s father Kanjibhai succumbed to Covid-19 and passed away earlier in May. Piyush Chawla, who was part of India’s 2011 World Cup-winning team, also lost his father Pramod Kumar. Indian women team’s swashbuckling middle-order batter Veda Krishnamurthy’s elder sister passed away in Chikmagalur due to complications related to Covid-19, two weeks after her mother had also succumbed to the virus.
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