Moscow Olympic stars Maharaj Krishan Kaushik and Ravinder Pal Singh succumb to Covid-19.

On Saturday, India’s hockey fraternity was struck with grief as Moscow Olympic stars Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, aka M.K Kaushik, and Ravinder Pal Singh succumbed to the harrowing Covid-19.

M.K. Kaushik’s international career commenced in 1975 when he represented India in festival matches in Afghanistan, and later played a lot of international tournaments. The rightwinger was very agile and a skillful striker with fine control, and could make dangerous runs on the right extreme. Kaushik represented India in the Quaid-e-Azam International Tournament in 1976 in Lahore, followed by the Pre-Olympics in Moscow (1979).

He was a member of the Indian Hockey team that went to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, India scored 43 goals in six matches, a record for the most number of goals in an Olympics to date. Kaushik was also part of the team which won silver at the 1982 Asia Cup. He was conferred the Arjuna award in 1988, 18 years after he played for the gold medal-winning Indian team in Moscow.

Kaushik`s brilliant exhibit in the field of hockey also earned him Maharashtra Government’s Chhatrapati Shivaji award and was also awarded Dronacharya Award in 2002.

Having pre-matured retired as Deputy Director of Sports, Haryana, Kaushik would also take the helm to take control over Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, and later at the National Hockey Academy in New Delhi. He 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 (2006), apart from gold-winning performances at the Afro Asian Games (2003) and the Asia Cup (2004).

Kaushik was the chief coach for Men`s team which, after a gap of 32 years, won a gold medal in the 13th Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998.

Former Indian hockey star Ravindra Pal Singh, a member of the Moscow Olympics winning team, passed away at Lucknow hospital on the same day as his stalwart teammates passed away. Ravindra Pal Singh was a two-times Olympian. Singh, known for his speed and interceptions, was a product of the Lucknow Sports hostel, who went on later to play the 1982 World Cup and the Asian Cup in Karachi.

Employed with State Bank of India, Ravindra Pal Singh had taken pre-mature retirement. He remained a bachelor for his life.

(Writer is a former Associate Professor, DU, and consultant Limca Book of Records. Views expressed are personal)