Herald News

When Olympic medal winners are ignored, is there hope for Goan sport?

28 Sep 2014 01:55am IST
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28 Sep 2014 01:55am IST

This is the story of Walter and Mary, both Goa’s pride, both medal winners for India in the Olympics. Walter de Souza, a member of the gold medal-winning hockey team in the 1948 London Olympics and Mary D’Souza, a silver medal winner in athletics in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. KATHY PEREIRA reports on how despite promises, these heroes have never really been honoured

The government promises to take care of its sporting heroes. But there are at least two heroes that it has not taken care of. One is hockey gold medal-winning Olympian (1948 London Olympics) Walter de Souza and the other is another Olympian Mary D’Souza.

In Walter’s case, the Central government decided to dedicate a cover that contains the design of Goa’s illustrious history, rich culture, sportsmanship and natural beauty along with the “Shera’, the mascot of 2010 Commonwealth Games with the five Goan heroes of India’s Hockey gold medal-winning team at the 1948 London Olympics.  Walter de Souza, Leo Pinto, Lawrie Fernandes, Maxie Vaz, Reggie Rodrigues.

However, another person’s photograph was put instead of Walter’s photograph. And despite this being brought to the notice of the government, till date nothing has been done.

In Mary’s case, the government once again said that it is planning to still honour veteran Goan sportspersons who have brought honour to the State. Speaking to Herald, Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar promised that the government would recognize the achievements of Olympian Mary D’Souza, who was conferred with the prestigious ‘Dhyan Chand Award’, India’s highest award for lifetime achievement in the field of sports in 2013.

“The government missed out on a golden opportunity to honour Mary, shortly after she was awarded by the Central government last year. She was down in Goa for a few days. But I will do it soon. Goa will recognize her international contribution to sports,” Tawadkar said, admitting the State government’s failure. 

This is what Tadwadkar had said when Mary was conferred the Dhyan Chand award in 2013 “I am ecstatic that a sportswoman of Goan origin, although advanced in years, is being honored with the country’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports. The State government will not lag behind in doing the maximum possible to recognize and honour Mary D’Souza for her highest recognition by the country.” Empty words for sure.

Mary (82), who traces her roots to Quitula-Aldona, had taken part in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics – the very first time India had sent women athletes to the Olympics. She had also won a silver medal in 4x100m relay, and bronze medal in 200m at the Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi. She then teamed up with Christine Brown, Stephie D’Souza and Violet Peters to win gold in the 4x100m relay, at the Asian Games in Manila, in 1954.

Mary’s had also represented India in hockey at the World Cup Hockey tournament in London (1953) and the World Cup Hockey in Australia (1956). Mary even trained with the legendary American athlete, Jesse Owens.
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