Sachin Nag – a forgotten legend

Sachin Nag claimed the 100m freestyle gold at the inaugural Asian Games and also won two bronze medals at New Delhi in 1951.

September 29, 2014 12:24 am | Updated 12:27 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Sachin Nag.

Sachin Nag.

He too was a Sachin. A hero, winning laurels for the country. Only he did not play cricket.

Sachin Nag, a distinguished swimmer and a fine role model, has remained unsung despite some sterling performances in days gone by. Amidst the euphoria generated by a bronze-medal show by an Indian swimmer at the Incheon Asian Games, lies the untold story of a gold medallist of the 1951 edition of the Asian sporting extravaganza.

Nag passed away a sad man in 1987. “He yearned for recognition from the government. Not financial considerations but acknowledgement of his service to the sport and the country,” said his 56-year-old son Ashoke Kumar Nag, an insurance agent residing in Kolkata.

Plea to government

Nag’s family has made many representations to the Union Sports Ministry for a Dhyan Chand award for the late swimmer. The government has only made promises.

At the inaugural Asian Games in Delhi, Nag earned appreciation from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for emerging the fastest swimmer. The 100m freestyle gold is the only first position finish by an Indian swimmer in the Asian Games. In the same edition, in 100m backstroke, Kanti Shah claimed the lone silver for the country.

In subsequent years, Khajan Singh won a silver medal at Seoul in 1986, followed by a bronze each from Virdhawal Khade (2010) and Sandeep Sejwal (2014).

Sejwal, as is widely believed, is not the third but ninth medallist in swimming at the Asian Games. In 1951, Nag also won a bronze in 4x100m freestyle (with Bimal Chandra, Isaac Mansoor and Sambu Saha) and 3x100 medley (with Kanti Shah and Jehangir Naigamwalla). Individual winners, apart from Kanti, were Chandra (bronze in 400m freestyle) and Naigamwalla (bronze in 200m breaststroke).

Proficient in water polo

Nag, according to his son, learnt by swimming in the Ganga in Varanasi. “He loved the sport. At the 1948 Olympics, when India beat Chile 7-4 in water polo, my father scored four goals. In fact, he was independent India’s first goal scorer because water polo was held before the hockey competition,’ said Ashoke.

When India hosted the 1982 Asian Games, Nag did not receive an invitation to attend the competition! It may be mentioned that the Asian Games Village at Siri Fort in Delhi has a block named after Sachin Nag.

“I wish my father gets a better form of recognition for this generation of sportsmen to understand that he was a gold medal winner in swimming at Asian Games,” pleads Ashoke.

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