New Delhi: A felicitation function to honour India's Olympics heroes here today was marred by utter chaos due to mismanagement by the Sports Ministry with a large number of fans turning it into near-stampede like situation.
Wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, shooters Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang, shuttler Saina Nehwal and boxer M C Mary Kom were handed cash awards by the government for winning medals in the just-concluded London Olympics in a function held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
But the function held at an open area outside the hockey stadium turned into a complete chaos by pushing and shoving by the hundreds of fans, mainly school children, who turned up and tried to reach the dais to have a glimpse of their heroes.
All hell broke loose when the medal winners were presented cash awards with hordes of people trying to get a vantage position and charging towards the dais, leading to the trampling on the other athletes who took part in the Olympics and were sitting on chairs under the sweltering heat.
The mismanagement by the organisers was such that Wrestling Federation of India President, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh lambasted the Sports Ministry for "humiliating" the federation officials by inviting them to such a function.
"We have been insulted after being invited to such a badly mismanaged function. I have not attended such a
mismanaged function in my life. We should not have come for this function," a fuming Bhushan said.
"I don't mind I am being quoted. We were shouting at the top of our voice asking people to sit down but it was all in vain. So many athletes left the venue in disgust. This is humiliating to us.
"Our federation gave two medals but they (Sports Ministry) did not even take our name. We made the effort and they want to take all the credit," he added.
Moreover, while speaking about the athletes' achievements at the London Games during the function, the host of the show goofed up while calling out the players' names.
He addressed Yogeshwar Dutt as 'Yogendra', while Saina Nehwal was called as Sania (India's tennis player). Talking about shooter Joydeep Karmakar's fourth place finish at the Olympic Games, the host mistook the Kolkata-based marksman for an archer.
Other sportspersons who took part in the Olympics, including boxer Vijender Singh and discus thrower Krishna Poonia, athletics head coach Bahadur Singh and legendary P T Usha sat silently under sweltering heat with the people blocking their view of what was happening on the dais.
Some of them were heard saying that it would be better if the function ended as soon as possible. Vijender left early, while weightlifter Ravi Kumar sneaked out of the area after experiencing the chaotic situation.
One member of a family of a medal winner rued why they had come in such a badly organised event.
"We should not have come. Why the function is being managed so badly and that too for an official function to honour the medal winners? It's embarrassing," the family member of a medal winner said.
Amid the chaos, Maken delivered his speech, saying that the government would start planning so that India can win 25 medals in 2020 Olympics.
"We will start planning from now. We are aiming 25 medals in 2020 Olympics. The government is ready to provide the best infrastructure, best coaches and foreign training," he said.
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