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It's a great honour: Ajitpal Singh

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
June 10, 2004 12:25 IST
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Former captains of the Indian hockey team Ajitpal Singh, Zafar Iqbal and Aslam Sher Khan will share the honour with legendary athlete Milkha Singh in carrying the Olympic torch from Qutub Minar to the National Stadium on Thursday.

"It is a great honour to run with the Olympic torch. I will be the first Indian athlete to run after Suresh Kalmadi [president of the Indian Olympic Association] hands over the torch to me," said an excited Ajitpal Singh, who led the Indian hockey team to its last World Cup victory in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur.

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Singh felt that former All England badminton champion Prakash Padukone should have also been included in the list of athletes carrying the Olympic torch. "Why just Prakash, there is nobody from the world of table tennis where we have names like Indu Puri, Manjit Dua and others," he said.

Zafar Iqbal took a more charitable view of the constraints faced by the mega event's organizers. "The whole effort is to attract the media and public attention, and that could not have been done without the inclusion of film personalities and cricketers. After all, when you prepare a list, someone or the other is bound to be left out. I for one feel P T Usha should have been there along with Milkha Singh," he said.

Aslam Sher Khan, who will run the Rajpath leg, will take the Olympic torch from cricketer Virendra Sehwag and hand it over to his vice captain Rahul Dravid who in turn will hand it over to actor Aamir Khan. "It is a great honour to be there. I am looking forward to doing my lap of honour," Khan told

Milkha Singh will take over the torch from actress Rani Mukherjee, and will in turn hand the torch over to ace shooter Anjali Ved Pathak who will carry it into the National Stadium. "The last time the Olympic torch came to India was in 1964, it is now here after a gap of 40 years. I feel proud and honoured that I am there," he said.

But the distinction of having two runners from the same family goes to sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan. "My two sons, Aman and Ayan Ali Bangash, were delighted to know their names figured in the list of runners. I am proud we have two runners from the family for this unique event," Khan told

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi