The pandemic has devastated lives the world over and more than three million people are reported to have died since Covid-19 first emerged in December 2019. Sport, of course, has not been exempt from the ravages of the virus. In this space, we take a moment to remember those we have lost in Indian sport.
Ramesh Tikaram (Former para badminton player, coach)
Died July 16, 2020, aged 51
An Arjuna Award winner, para athlete Tikaram started off with success at international tournaments in shot put and javelin throw events. He was also part of the Indian powerlifting team at the 1994 World Cup. Later, he switched to badminton, and became the first Indian player to win a round in the Para Badminton World Championships in 2001. Seen as something of a pioneering figure in Indian para badminton, he travelled with the national team as coach for several editions of the Para Asian Games. He is also credited with forming the Badminton Sports Association of India for the Challenged, which later became a part of the BAI.
Kishore Bhimani (Writer, broadcast commentator)
Died October 15, 2020, aged 81
Bhimani was the quintessential multi-sport, multimedia journalist of the 1970s and 80s. In his print avatar, he was sports editor of Kolkata's The Statesman newspaper, whereas his cricket commentary -- often witty and irreverent -- on radio and TV gave him a pan-India recognition. He was friends with the day's leading cricketers, across borders, but arguably his first love was racing - Saturday afternoons would invariably find him at the Kolkata race course.
SM Sultan (Senior Vice President, TTFI)
Died October 31, 2020, aged 61
Sultan, also secretary of the AP table tennis federation, was often at the forefront in helping organise international competitions in India. He played a crucial role in Hyderabad hosting the 2010 World Cadet Challenge and the 2012 ITTF World Junior Championships. In addition to Sultan, his mother, wife and son also succumbed to the virus.
Ahmed Hussain (Footballer, sports administrator)
Died April 16, 2021, aged 85
Hussain was a defender who played in the great Indian team that came fourth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Two years later, he was part of the side that finished fourth at the Tokyo Asian Games. He divided his club career mainly between Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata and Hyderabad FC, in his hometown. He later settled in Bengaluru, where he died.
Anupama Punchimanda (International hockey umpire)
Died April 18, 2021, aged 40
A former Karnataka state hockey player, Anupama became the first woman umpire from India to officiate at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. She went on to officiate in over 90 international games, which included several major competitions such as the FIH Junior World Cup and Asian Games, apart from over 100 national-level and state-level matches.
Babulal Goverdhan 'BG' Joshi (Hockey statistician)
Died April 20, 2021, aged 67
Joshi was a veritable one-man army of stats, figures and records in international hockey. He would be the first point of contact not just for Hockey India, but also for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in terms of head-to-head figures and player profiles. A resident of Sehore, Madhya Pradesh he would travel to every hockey event in India and abroad, often at his own cost, and also frequented Bengaluru where one of his two sons lives. Whenever he visited, he would make it a point to drop in at the ESPN office, snacks from his hometown in tow.
Chandro Tomar (Shooter)
Died April 30, 2021, aged 89
Nicknamed 'Shooter Dadi', Tomar was 65 years old when she first picked up shooting. It was born out of her granddaughter expressing interest to pursue the sport. Hailing from Baghpat village, Uttar Pradesh, she participated alongside her sister Prakashi Tomar in the veterans' category of a number of national competitions, winning numerous medals and is viewed as an icon for breaking stereotypes and battling patriarchy.
RK Sacheti (Executive Director, Boxing Federation of India)
Died May 4, 2021, aged 56
Widely regarded as one of the backroom officials responsible for the growth of Indian boxing, and was seen as the "life and soul" of the federation. Sacheti became BFI ED in 2016. Last year, he was invited by the International Olympic Committee's Experts Group to "advise on the formulation of rules for Olympic Qualifiers."
MK Kaushik (Olympic gold-winning hockey player, national team coach)
Died May 8, 2021, aged 66
Kaushik was a key member of India's last Olympic gold-winning team, in 1980, and later a successful coach of the national side. Under his coaching, the men's team won gold at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok while the women won bronze at the Doha Asian Games in 2006. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1998, and the Dronacharya award in 2002.
Ravinder Pal Singh (Olympic gold-winning hockey player)
Died May 8, 2021, aged 60
Singh, who played at centre-half, took part in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, the Champions Trophy in Karachi (1980, 1983), 1982 World Cup in Mumbai and 1982 Asia Cup in Karachi, He also played in the 1979 Junior World Cup.
V Chandrasekhar (TT player, coach)
Died May 12, 2021, aged 64
Chandrasekhar, fondly known as Chandra, was a three-time national champion whose career was cut short cruelly, at its peak, when a minor surgery went terribly wrong. He wouldn't give up, though, and continued to dedicate his life to Table Tennis -- opening an academy in Chennai and mentoring generations of players, including Olympian-to-be Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Dr Arun Kumar Mendiratta (Chairman, medical commission, AFI)
Died May 21, 2021, aged 60
Chairman of the Athletics Federation of India's medical commission, Mendiratta had been set to travel with India's contingent for the Tokyo Olympics. He had been part of the Asian Athletics Association for over 25 years. He had been the architect of AFI's no-needles anti-doping policy and played a pivotal role in the fight against age-fraud.