He is a rare Asian Games champion and the last Indian footballer at the Olympics but O. Chandrasekharan was lost for words at the Sportstar’s re-launch function at the Le Meridien here on Wednesday night.

“I’m so excited… sitting with so many great Olympians,” said Chandrasekharan, the star of the Indian team which held France to a draw and gave a scare to European champion Hungary at the 1960 Rome Olympics, the last time an Indian football team played in the Summer Games.

Chandrasekharan released the new-look Sportstar, which is now in a magazine format with livelier content, and presented the first copies to Olympians M.D. Valsamma and Mercy Kuttan.

“My first photo came in the Sportstar, after the Inter-State Nationals in Bangalore,” said Valsamma, the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games 400m hurdles champion and a star of the Indian team that broke the Asian 4x400m relay record at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. George Thomas, Kerala’s lone senior national champion in badminton, said Sportstar always used to encourage young talent.

“I have 500 to 600 copies of the magazine in my house and I used to have the centrespreads all over my room,” he said.

Volleyball international R. Rajeev said the magazine played a big role in him taking up the sport. Among the other lead guests at the function were Olympian Ambika Radhika (table tennis) and basketball international Subash Shenoy.

K.N. Raghavan, the Commissioner of Customs and an international cricket umpire, said he was a fan of Sportstar since it covered all the games.

“It also used to cover local matches.

“I still remember Titty (T.D. Titty, a footballer from Aluva who excelled in the Sait Nagjee tournament almost three decades ago) on the cover in 1980,” he said.

Badminton international Jaseel Ismail; football internationals C.C. Jacob, M.M. Jacob and Bentla D’couth; Ranji Trophy cricket stars K. Jayaraman, T.K. Madhav and P.Balachandran; State tennis stars Rynold Timothy and K. Shanker; leading coaches T. P. Ouseph, P. R. Purushothaman and M. J. Mohanachandran; Hockey India’s Mariamma Koshy; and AFI Joint Secretary Tony Daniel, were some of the officials, players and coaches who were part of the function.

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