with love to indore

Monday, July 30, 2012

People who make Indore proud -Shankar Lakshman

this is olympic season and indian hockey team well in its first match against netherlands

shivendra singh of gwalior is part of indian team and scored a oal today so i thought to make a post about Shankar Lakshman who captained Indian team in 1964 tokyo olympic old

Ask any Indian hockey lover to name the greatest Indian to grace the hockey field, and I am sure, their answers would be confined to the Dhyan Chands and the Dhanraj Pillays. Shankar Laxman is a name hardly talked about when people sit and disc

y in the late 50s and early 60s might say that Shankar Laxman was arguably the greatest goalkeeper to have ever played for India.

Born in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, Shankar Laxman started his sports career as a footballer, and it was only after he joined the army, that he switched over to hockey. Playing for Services, he immediately earned admirers due to his fearless and assured goalkeeping.

Shankar Laxman was part of India’s three successful Olympics campaigns where he won two golds – 1956 (Melbourne) and ’64 (Tokyo) to go along with a silver in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where India lost out to Pakistan in the final.

His biggest moment of glory came in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where India met Pakistan in the third consecutive Olympics final. The match was called a thriller even before it began and it did not disappoint. After India took the lead early in the second half, Pakistan, wanting to prove that their win in Rome four years ago wasn’t a fluke, went all-out with their attack. But that day, Laxman had a match of his life. Despite the lack of protective gear, he blunted Pakistan’s attacks with valiant goalkeeping and helped India regain the gold medal.

After the final, the manager of the silver medal winning Pakistani hockey team called Laxman “The Rock of Gibraltar”, as he was the sole obstacle between the Pakistani team and the gold medal. Hockey Circle, an Australian Hockey Magazine, referring to Laxman’s performance in the final quoted,

“…for Laxman, the ball was the size of a football. It was his afternoon of glory and fame.”

He also represented India in three Asian games starting in 1958 when hockey was first introduced in the Asiad in Tokyo, where India won the gold. The 1962 games in Jakarta was a disappointing tournament for him as India lost to Pakistan in the final and he was made the scapegoat for the loss. But he came back to captain India to a gold medal at the Bangkok games.

You just have to take a look at his stunning record to know how brilliant a goalkeeper he was. In three Olympic finals against Pakistan, he conceded just one goal and in three Asian Games finals, he conceded two.

But despite a superb effort of conceding just 3 goals in 6 finals, Laxman was given a raw deal by the Indian Hockey Federation when he was dropped from the squad for 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Dhyan Chand, in his autobiography, termed courage as the most important of all the attributes of a successful goalkeeper. In those days of unprotected goalies, Laxman was indeed courage personified. Playing with just pads as a protective gear, Laxman had nerves of steel and his gallantry was next to none. Charles Cornelius, former Indian hockey player, once quoted about Laxman:

‘Laxman was among the game’s greatest. He was an epitome of courage and a role-model for others of his ilk. Unfazed by any situation, he had the ability to defuse any crisis. His team-mates were at a loss to know how his pads grew broader and broader as the contest wore on.’

In a country where ex-sportsmen, apart from probably cricketers, are hardly looked after by their respective federations, Shankar Laxman lived the final years of his life in penury, and died at the age of 73 after suffering from gangrene in one leg in his native town Mhow.

he former Indian hockey player Charles Cornelius had once said of him " Lakshman was among the game`s greatest. He was an epitome of courage and a role model for others of his ilk. Unfazed by any situation, Shankar Lakshman had the ability to defuse any crisis. His team-mates were at a loss to know how his pads grew broader and broader as the contest wore on." Shankar Lakshman, an Indian hockey player was born on 7th July in the year 1933.

The Indian National team which had played in the Olympics in the year 1956, 1960 and 1964, Shankar Lakshman has served as the goalkeeper for the Indian team. In the Olympics, the Indian National Team won two gold medals and one silver medal. Under his captaincy, the Indian team also won the gold in the 1966 Asian Games.

He played hockey at a time when as a protective gear, the goalkeeper were provided only the pads. The Rock of Gibraltar, as his opponents called him, the manager of the silver medal winning Pakistani hockey team of the `64 Tokyo Olympics quoted that `Shankar Lakshman was the sole obstacle between the Pakistani team and the gold medal`. He was the first goalkeeper captain in the world. In the 1964 Hockey finals against Pakistan while referring to his performance in Tokyo the Australian Hockey magazine Hockey Circle had said, "...for Lakshman, the ball was the size of a football. It was his afternoon of glory and fame. "

Sports career of Shankar Lakshman had begun as a footballer. This former captain of the football team of Kodaria village in Mhow, switched over to hockey only after he joined the Army. To disseminate hockey, Heroes Club had been founded by him in Mhow. Mhow`s best football club, Young Brothers also benefited from his expertise. Under his guidance as coach Indian National Hockey team participated to the Barcelona Olympics of 1992. Manohar Singh, son of Shankar Lakshman was also a hockey player and had played for Indore Christian College and the University of Indore (as Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya was known earlier). But his grandsons have taken another famous sport of Mhow that is wrestling.

At the tender age of 14, as a bandsman, Lakshman had joined the Indian Army in the year 1947. He also served in the 5th Battalion of Maratha Light Infantry. In the year1978, he had adjourned from the Army. At that time he was serving the post of a Subedar Major. He was awarded the rank of honorary captain during his tenure as army man.. This battalion, with full military honours conducted his funeral. By the Infantry School, Garrison Ground Mhow has been commuted into a mini stadium and has been named after Lakshman. The Infantry School Mhow has also established the Shankar Lakshman Hockey Championship Trophy that can be considered as an apt honour for a son of Mhow. The 26th Maratha Light Infantry won this trophy for the first time.

He belonged to Mhow, a small cantonment town in the Indore District of the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh state, India. He pertained the Shekhawat community of Rajasthan. This eminent Indian field hockey player, Shankar Lakshman spent all his retired life there until his death in 2006. He died on the 29th April, 2006. The people of Mhow were aghast to learn a month before his death that he was suffering from gangrene in one leg. Doctors suggested surgical removal of the portion being affected. But the Lakshman family refused and preferred for alternative therapy. They went to the former cricketer and a healer who uses traditional herbal remedies, he was going to Ramesh Parmar. The people of this small town who were very proud of him also loved Shankar Lakshman so dearly. He was and will always remain, for them, one of the few genuine heroes that their small town has produced. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1965 and the Padmashri in 1967.

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