Former Olympic distance runner Edward Sequeira, popularly known as Eddie, only last year recovered from a cylinder blast that nearly took away both his legs. The 1972 Munich Olympian is now eagerly looking forward to following all the action from the London Games at home on his television.
Sequeira recalled the incident that changed his life two years ago “I was at a friend's place in Goa and as he went into the kitchen to warm some food for the both of us, the cylinder exploded. Both of us were severely burnt and for three months thereafter I could not walk. Fortunately, after some prolonged treatment at Mumbai's Bhatia Hospital, I was able to stand on my feet again. I’ve had to undergo some extensive skin grafting on both my legs,” Sequeira told MiD DAY on the sidelines of the relaunch of Sportstar magazine at the Cricket Club of India’s CK Nayudu Hall yesterday.
Sequeira recalled another scary moment in his life — the massacre of Israeli athletes at the hands of members of the Black September, a Palestine militant outfit.
Sequeira was also at the Olympic Village when the terrorists stormed the building where the Israeli terrorists were put up.
“Munich remains one of my life’s most horrifying memories. At 4.30am on September 5, a group of men dressed in red tracksuits entered the Olympic Village and took held some of the Israeli athletes hostage. My first reaction was that it may be a fight between members of the Indian and Pakistani contingents (given the Indo-Pak war was fought only a year earlier). I told my roommate Sri Ram Singh (participating in the 800m event) not to open the doors. We heard gunshots and there was panic everywhere. I remember seeing a few Israeli wrestlers trying to jump off the first floor. The terrorists later grabbed the athletes, took them down to a car, and drove away,” explained the 72-year-old. This was followed by a fierce gun battle between the terrorists and German police at a nearby airfield, following which it was learnt that 11 Israeli athletes, five of the eight terrorists and one German police officer lost their lives. “The Games resumed after 34 hours but it was difficult to focus on my event. My mind kept going back to the last few hours of that morning,” added Sequeira, who finished 8th in the 5,000m final in Munich the next day. But all that is in the past now, and Sequeira is looking forward to keenly following the world's biggest sporting spectacle
“I will be following the Indian athletics team closely. I realise that there is a little or no chance of a medal from the 14 athletes but I believe feel that both the discus throwers (Krishna Poonia and Vikas Gowda) can finish in the top eight,” said Sequeira, who rued the lack of sports infrastructure in the country.
“We just cannot keep talking about winning athletics medals at the Olympics with the Athletics Federation of India ignoring the importance of world-class
infrastructure where our athletes can train,” he signed off.