Forgotten heroes: 5 Indian athletes who deserved better

The forgotten rock of Indian hockey: Shankar Lakshman
Mrinal Narang
Modified 26 Nov 2014
Top 5 / Top 10

Somewhere, in the glamorous world of cricket and the Indian Premier League, we tend to ignore and forget some of the sporting heroes who deserve their fair share of attention and appreciation.These sportsmen are just few of the many who managed to carve a niche for themselves in the wide world of sports despite their disabilities, for we have absolutely no clue how much they had to go through and how much they had to sacrifice in order to realise their dreams.But somehow, for some reason, inspite of the many laurels they bring for the country, they remain forgotten and unappreciated. It is not just the poverty that hurts, but the trauma of anonymity.The disturbing sagas of some ofthese forgotten heroes brings tofore the apathy and negligence shown towards these real-life heroes by the sports officials. It is high time that the ministry wakes up to the cause and provides for enough financial support to these sportsmen who shed their blood and sweat in order to win laurels for the country, so that they can live in dignity even after their playing days are over. If such things are not taken care of, how can we even expect the youngsters to take up sports as a career option? As it is rightly said, if a nation does not care for its sporting heroes who earned glory for it in the past, it can expect none in the future.

#5 Shankar Lakshman

Shankar Lakshman was the hockey goalkeeper who stood between gold for India and brutal Pakistan onslaughts in the finals of 1964 Tokyo Olympics and 1966 Bangkok Asian Games. Lakshman represented the Indian team at the 1956, 1960 and the 1964 Olympics, and won 2 gold medals and 1 silver medal. He was the first goalkeeper to ever captain an international hockey team and was conferred the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri for his contribution. Lakshman started his carrer in 1955 and earned kudos for his daredevil goalkeeping. He figured in three Asian Games starting 1958 when hockey was first introduced in the Asiad in Tokyo, and was the captain of the Indian team which won the gold at the 1966 Asian Games. Lakshman was described by his rivals as the ‘Rock of Gibraltor' as they found it very tough to beat him.

Despite his superb showings, Lakshman was treated shabilly by the Indian Hockey Federation and was left shocked when he was dropped from the squad for 1968 Mexico Olympics. 
After missing the selection, Lakshman quit hockey. He remained with the Army, retiring in 1979 as a captain of the Maratha Light Infantry. He lived the final years of his life in poverty, and died in 2006 after suffering from gangrene. 

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Published 23 Sep 2014
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