Ajit Pal Singh named Indian Chef-de-Mission
After months of uncertainty, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) finally decided to send Olympian and former hockey captain Ajit Pal Singh as the country's Chef-de-Mission for the London Olympic Games.
The seven-member IOA committee for choosing the Chef-De-Mission on Monday was unanimous in its approval of Ajit Pal after disputes over the matter. It is the first time that a sportsperson has been appointed for the post, which in the past has always gone to politicians or administrators.
“We wanted to set a new precedent. It has always been the administrators who have been picked to head a contingent, be it in Olympics, Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, but never a sportsperson. It was time for a change. I proposed the name of Ajitpal Singh and got a unanimous approval. We have set the trend, and I hope it will continue”,” IOA acting president VK Malhotra told Deccan Herald.
IOA vice-president Tarlochan Singh and Weightlifting Federation of India presidenr BP Baishya were among the contenders for the post but will now be going with the Indian contingent as IOA observers. IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh called it a “historic” decision. Ajit Pal, a three-time Olympian and captain of the 1975 World Cup winning team, confessed to be taken aback by his appointment.
“It is completely out of the box. I am quite surprised by the development. It will be a very challenging assignment, and it will require a lot of work. But at the end it is a sports oriented job and I have seen how it is done, I will do my best,” Ajit Pal told Deccan Herald.
Ajit Pal termed it a good trend to pick sportspersons as Chef-De-Mission and hoped to see more of his tribe appointed for the job.
“Sportspersons must be considered for such posts. They understand the need of the athletes. There should be a good mix of sportspersons and administrators.”
Ajit Pal added, “I am confident India will win more medals this time. I know how the sportspersons feel after day’s hectic schedule in the Olympics. Winning and losing is part of the game. I will be there for the sportspersons, but I will also be a strict disciplinarian”.
The 65-year-old centre-half represented India in 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympic Games. He also played in three World Cups -- 1971, 1973 and 1975 and in two Asian Games in 1970 and 1974.