Former Olympian Akotkar backs Kalmadi

Updated: Aug 08, 2010, 19:02 PM IST

Pune: Former Olympian Balkrishna Akotkar came out strongly in support of underfire Suresh Kalmadi and lashed out at his Tokyo Olympics fellowman Milkha Singh for his recent remarks that Army should have handled the Commonwealth Games preparation.

The national marathon record holder, Akotkar, said Singh had himself been "unsuccessful" despite being in the helm of affairs of Chandigarh Amateur Athletic Association (CAAA) and it was irrational for him to criticise with less than two months to go for the October 3-14 Delhi Games.

"It`s shocking to note the irrational comments by one of the great athletes of the country. His remarks were baseless and unwarranted in the interest of the country. It`s easy to point fingers at each other. He is an iconic figure and what has been his contribution," the 1964 Tokyo Olympian told a news agency.

Miffed with Singh`s recent remarks where he criticized Kalmadi with scams marring the build up to the CWG, the 75-year-old claimed, "I would honour and felicitate you with a purse of Rs 1 lakh if you could produce an Olympic medal winner. He should have weighed the pros and cons before making such comments."

In strong support of Kalmadi who hails from Pune, Akotkar said "The Athletic Federation of India (AFI) has gone on record for the outstanding contribution of IOA president Kalmadi. It`s through his efforts the cash award scheme was launched and many top-ranked athletes were benefited.

"Even the country has hailed the phenomenal organizing capacity of Kalmadi in getting not only Commonwealth Youth Games (in Pune) but also successfully bidding for the CWG which has come to the country after the 1982 Asiad."

Akotkar had represented in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics alongside Singh.

Singh had earlier trained guns at Kalmadi and held the OC chairman responsible for all the mess in the build up to the CWG and said that Army should have handled the operations.