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Covid takes away golden men of Indian hockey

Archie Little | New Delhi

Maharaj Krishan Kaushik and Ravinder Pal Singh had won many a battle to bring laurels to the country. But in a cruel twist of fate both the decorated members of India’s last gold-medal winning Olympic hockey team lost their battle against the Covid-19.

Centre-half Ravinder Pal and right-winger Kaushik, who both stood on the podium when India last won a gold medal in hockey at the Olympics in Moscow in 1980, died a few hours apart of each other.

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Over the past few days, the former teammates were battling for life in different cities. Two-time Olympian Ravinder, 61, was admitted to a private facility in Lucknow after testing positive for Covid-19 and was showing signs of recovery and tested negative for the virus earlier this week. But his condition rapidly deteriorated and he was put on a ventilator but breathed his last on Saturday morning.

Kaushik, who too had tested negative for Covid-19, was suffering from severe lung issues and fluctuating oxygen saturation levels. The 66-year-old was put on a ventilator in New Delhi and was even administered critical medication earlier in the week but he did not respond to treatment.

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The much-accomplished Ravinder Pal was also part of the Indian hockey team for various premier events like the 1979 junior World Cup, 1982 World Cup and Champions Trophy.

Making his India debut in 1975, Kaushik didn’t have a long run on the international circuit but made a telling impact during his decorated career. He was conferred the Arjuna award in 1988.

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After completing his coaching course at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, Kaushik began his coaching career at the club level. His stint with the national team began in the late 1980s as an assistant coach. In the early 1990s, he worked tirelessly to build a national team. Under his coaching, the Indian men’s team won a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.

Also, Indian women team had won bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 under his coaching.  He was bestowed with the Dronacharya award in 2002.

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Kaushik also played a key role in shaping the Indian women’s hockey team, whom he guided to a bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006, apart from gold-winning performances at the 2003 Afro Asian Games and 2004 Asia Cup. His last stint with the national team was with the men’s side in 2014.

Kaushik was involved in the development of the Bollywood sports biopic, ‘Chak de India’, roughly based on the life of former India goalkeeper Mir Ranjan Negi.

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