Sports icons open their hearts as Olympic Week kick-starts

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Pune, Jun 23 (UNI) Sports icons of yesteryears minced no words in recounting the trials and tribulations they had to face, in reaching the zenith in their efforts to earn laurels for the country, while speaking at the Olympic Week celebrations that commenced here today.

Maharashtra Olympic Association (MOA) has organised the Olympic week celebrations, concluding on June 29, as per the directions of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), which directed all its affiliated units to celebrate the week in a befitting manner, in keeping with the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It may be recalled that in the past, it was June 29 that had been earmarked for the Olympic moment.

Former Olympian and renowned grappler Ganpat Andalkar of Kolhapur, who represented the country in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, formally inaugurated the week long celebrations. Speaking on the occasion, the ''Hind Kesari'' winner said that despite his advanced age of 32 years, at the time when he took part in the Olympics, he had to make supreme efforts to meet the expectations of the country, overcoming many hurdles like new foreign strategies and language barrier.

Meanwhile, Ace pugilist Manoj Pingale, who represented the country in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, said that the lack of foreign exposure for the Indian pugilists was one of the main causes of their not winning a single medal. ''No one was there to cheer us during the event, apart from sports scribe Pralhad Sawant and Prof Balasaheb Landge, general secretary of the wrestling federation then,'' he added.

Prof Landge, presently the secretary general of MOA, dwelt at length on the security aspect before and after the 1972 Munich Olympics, during his speech, on the occasion.

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