Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Talimaran Ao and sports persons from North East India


The greatest and most fascinating of Sports – Olympics would begin on 27th July 2012 and will conclude on 12th Aug 12.  London has hosted the games twice earlier in 1908 & 1948 – it is no place for honeymoon but the arena where after countless days of gruelling preparation, strategy, practice and dreams – athletes and Nations would still find surprises from aspirants coming from tiny-dots of Countries.

Life for some, is never on easy lane – in Dec 2006, she hogged limelight at Asian Games in Doha winning a Silver medal in the 800m clocking 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds – it is the sordid tale of Santhi Soundarajan who was stripped of  that silver medal after failing a gender verification test, disputing her eligibility to participate in the women's competition.

Today, Times of India reports of her struggle in life, engaged in menial labour for eight hours a day and is paid Rs 200 per day.  There have been  some other athletes who have failed gender tests before, but they were supported strongly by their own countries.    Brick kiln [chengal choolai in Tamil] one of the toughest of places to work with high temperature and worse atmosphere and those engaged in this industry are often the lowly paid sufferers. nHow sad !  for somebody who brought laurel to the Nation.

Not all are fortunate enough to earn millions – earlier in one of my posts, I had queried about Dr Talimaran Ao – and here is something on him. 

Talimaran Ao was an Indian footballer. He played and was captain in the first official game in the history of the India national football team, as well as professional footballer for nearly nine years, all with Mohun Bagan.  He was born in 1918 at Changki , Mokokchung District,Nagaland.  In 1937, he was selected the Best Footballer of All Assam Inter School Football Championship. In 1950 Ao captained Bagan in the Durand Cup but lost to Hyderabad Police in the final 1-0

A year after India became free Country, in 1948, Talimaran led the National football team in 1948 Summer Olympics as captain. In India's first match against France the team lost 2-1 with the India goal coming from Sarangapani Raman. Later he played five more matches for India before retiring.

After retiring from the game Ao studied medicine at R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, Calcutta. After completing his MBBS, he went back to Nagaland, becoming the  director of Nagaland Health Service.   In 2002 Mohun Bagan honored him with the Mohun Bagan Ratna Award.  He died in 1998 at the age of 80.

Sikkim hosts a football tournament in his memory named Dr. TAo Football Tournament. This knock out tournament,  is organized by the Sports and Youth Affairs Department (S&YA) sponsored by the North Eastern Council (NEC) and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.  The tournament is held between eight North-eastern states of India and is organized by each state in rotation.  Now in London, there is Mary Kom, Jayanta Talukdar and others from North East from whom India expects some medals.  

There is a hoarding campaign in three phases which  will have photographs of five Olympians from the Northeast to begin with. Some of the 135 hoardings are  to be put up in the national capital are huge — one of them 12ft by 80ft. Some 100 hoardings are likely to be put up in Calcutta, according to reports, while a huge one will greet passengers arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. In the second phase, of about 10 days, pictures of other better-known heroes like Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra will intersperse photographs of those from the Northeast. The third phase will depend on performances at the Games. The 80-odd Indian contingent includes 10 men and women from the Northeast. They include archers Talukdar (Assam), Tarundeep Rai (Sikkim) and L. Bombayala Devi (Manipur), boxers Mary Kom, L. Devendro Singh (Manipur) and Shiva Thapa (Assam), weightlifter Soniya Chanu (Manipur) and tennis player Somdev Devvarman, who has roots in Tripura.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th July 2012.

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