If winning six Olympic medals was any indication of India’s march towards being a sporting nation, yesterday’s Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ)-organised felicitation programme for two medal winners — Vijay Kumar and MC Mary Kom — and the best young talent of the country, boxer L Devendro Singh at the Bombay Gymkhana was testimony to that.
Even with the glamour quotient being so high with the presence of Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, the media and crowd of club members surprisingly chose to capture a glimpse of the medallists Kumar (silver medallist in the 25m rapid fire pistol) and Mary Kom (bronze in women’s 51kg boxing category).
This is quite an unnatural sight, given there were no cricketers present.
Even legendary cueist Geet Sethi admitted in as many words that it was quite a change of attitude from the fans and media, in particular. “I was just telling Deepika that fans are more interested in the medal winners rather than her,” Sethi said.
It was quite heartening to see around 100 kids at the Bombay Gymnkhana throng the dining hall not just to get a glimpse of India’s sporting heroes, but also pocketed autographs from each of them. Mary Kom being the first Indian woman to have won an Olympic boxing medal, was the most sought-after.
Not a very good orator herself, Mary Kom looked over the moon with the kind of fame she has already earned.
“I don’t know how to express my feeling, but I can tell you that with OGQ’s support it wouldn’t have been possible. I will now try and win more laurels for the country,” she said.
Vijay Kumar though was more suave in his brief speech. “I am a rapid fire shooter and so whatever I say, I say fast. So, it won’t be any different here. The Olympic medal has changed the course of my life,” Kumar said while thanking OGQ and the government for their support.
L Devendro Singh looked flabbergasted with the turn of events. Apart from thanking the organisers, he admitted that talking in front of a gathering was not his cup of tea.
The fact that four of India’s six medallists were supported by OGQ seems to have doubled their enthusiasm. To commemorate the success of the athletes, the non-profit foundation announced scholarship programmes for six youngsters across two disciplines — badminton and shooting.
BM Rahul (12, badminton), Kartikey Gulshan Kumar (12, badminton), Rahul Yadav (14, badminton), Siril Varma (12, badminton), Saurav Dalvi (15, rifle shooting) and Malaika Goel (14, pistol shooting) will be benefited by the organisation’s assistance in the next few years.
CEO Viren Rasquinha and co-founder and directors, Prakash Padukone and Sethi were present at the function along with Pullela Gopichand, whose wards, Saina Nehwal and P Kashyap stunned everyone by lifting their standards at the highest level.
Bronze medallist in the 10m air rifle event, Gagan Narang couldn’t make it to the function after his flight was delayed by an hour.