New Delhi: Legendary triple jumper Mohinder
Singh Gill, who won two of the only five track and field
medals of India`s Commonwealth Games history, is pained by the
spate of scams that has engulfed the Delhi Games.
Gill, who won the bronze and the silver respectively in
1970`s Edinburg and 1974`s Christchurch editions of the
Commonwealth Games, said politicians should be not be allowed
the sports national federation.
"I`m pained to read about all the scams and media should
make the public aware about their rights and stop the
corruption in sports. There is no business for politician in
any sports federations," Gill told reporters.
The 63-year-old track and field athlete recalls how his
participation in the Christchurch Games got jeopardised
because of the Indian officials and says he is still grateful
to then Prime Minister India Gandhi for helping him out.
Based in USA, Gill says the 1974 Games had started on
January 18 and it was January 25 but his promised air ticket
never showed up because the Athletics Federation of India
decided not to participate in the triple jump event with a
single representative as another member was taken ill just
before the Games.
Gill approached Gandhi, who was very busy but gave him a
patient hearing and then gave clearance for his flight ticket,
which reached him three days later.
"I was a student and training in the US in those days.
But I was stranded because the national federation was not
sending me the tickets as promised. They had cancelled the
team because I was the only member remaining in team after
another member fell sick. They also published a fake statement
in Indian newspapers on my behalf that I did not want to take
part in the Games anymore," said the arjuna awardee, who was
ranked number one in the world from January to May of 1972.
"But I was desperate to participate because I was the
only (Indian) medal winner in the previous edition. I was
really tensed. I did not know who to talk to? Then the chef de
mission of the contingent suggested that only the Prime
Minister could help me.”
"I took the advise seriously as I had really prepared
hard and called up the PMO. After a few nervous seconds, the
PMO staff connected me to Ms Gandhi who gave me a patient
hearing. Next day, the Consulate General made me available the
tickets at the Air India counter in Los Angeles," he said.
Gill eventually reached the Games a day before
competition began and emerged as the best qualifier for the
In the finals, Gill was leading till the final jump.
"When our event was in progress, an old Games record was
broken because of which attention of all conduct officials was
diverted. It was during this moment that my rival athelete
from Ghana, made a foul jump, which was cleared.”
"Though everyone, including TV held that it was a foul
jump, but noting could be done as no official was accompanying
me and no formal protest could be lodged. So I was denied a
gold and ended with a silver," Gill said, who cleared a superb
16.44 metres jump.
The six-feet tall, who won the gold in 1970 Asian Games
and the silver medal in the 1974 edition, had also led the
Indian contingent in 1972 Olympics but could not take part in
"My most disappointing or agonising moment was the 1972
Olympic Games. Just a few days before my actual competition, I
pulled a muscle and had to bow out of the event.”
"That year I had prepared myself very well after tough
training schedules and was all set for a medal. But it was not
to be," recalls Gill, who won a silver at the Pre-Olympic
Athletic Championships in 1971 at Munich.
Gill won 52 International Invitational Competitions for
India from 1965 to 1976 in America, Canada, Europe and Asia
establishing 19 new records in the process.
Apart from these major International Competitions, he had
the honor of winning five American National Athletics
Championships from 1969 to 1971 with 5 new records. For his
outstanding Athletic career, he was inducted into the Athletic
Hall of Fame at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 1993, the only
Asian to have this honour.