'My Olympic Journey' review: Little-known stories about India's top 50 Olympians

'My Olympic Journey' is a unique book. Although it's a collection of deeds of India’s top 50 Olympians, the narrative is in first person.

Authored by broadcast sports journalists Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose, the book has 50 top Olympians narrating their own story. It makes the collection interesting and so much authentic and readable.

Some of the experiences of theses sportspersons are revealing and never heard before. For instance, celebrated boxer and Beijing Olympic medallist Vijender Singh revealed how his sole aim was to become the national champion so that he could get a job in Police or Army. No doubt, it is the hard reality of Indian sport that everyone knows but that coming from Vijender — now when he is an icon of Indian sport — means a lot.

 My Olympic Journey review: Little-known stories about Indias top 50 Olympians

The book has 50 top Olympians narrating their own story. It makes the collection interesting and so much authentic and readable. News18

Anjali Bhagwat, who is considered a pioneer of Indian shooting, has a similar tale to share. Even after becoming a national champion she had to share a solitary rifle with ten other girls! She goes on to recount how actor Nana Patekar sponsored her first shooting kit.

Then there are personal anecdotes. For instance, how badminton ace Ashwinin Ponnappa met tennis superstar Novak Djokovic — revealing the human side of a star herself.

For India’s solitary individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, the post-medal celebrations were no better than a 'tamasha'. On his golden deed at Beijing Bindra recalls, "I had even anticipated the hysteria that followed, but I did not want to have anything to do with it. I hated every moment of the 'tamasha' that followed."

Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand’s son Ashok has an interesting story to share. He relates an emotional experience during Munich Olympics. He met a man who was brought on a stretcher to the ground. This man simply wanted to share with Ashok that he had seen his father Dhyan Chand playing during the Berlin Olympics in 1936. This, perhaps, could be the best anecdote of the 327-page book brought out by Penguin.

Yogeshwar Dutt saying that he has never met Leander Paes is also a very interesting revelation of the book and an honest confession by the Olympic wrestling bronze medallist.

No book on Indians in Olympics is complete without the 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh. And so much is written on the Rome Olympic star that it is difficult to get anything new. But Digvijay and Amit have managed to churn out stories about how he held conversation with American sprinter Charlie Jenkins without knowing a word of the English language.

The fact that the two authors could get so much out of these Indian superstars is because of Digvijay’s experience of covering the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games. His personal equation with athletes has also helped him a great deal.

In his enthusiasm however, Digvijay has made a mistake by telling us how Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore and he have now drifted apart and the shooter refused to share his experiences for the book. No offence to Digvijay, but I feel this doesn’t concern the reader of the book.

Printed in nice large typeset, the book is a must for sport lover — more so in the Olympic year. Penguin also deserves three cheers for taking on this project in a cricket-mad country.

Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Price: Rs. 299

Updated Date: Jul 21, 2016 14:39:11 IST