Leo Pinto dead

Former hockey Olympian and an outstanding goalkeeper, Leo Pinto passed away on Wednesday. He was the oldest living Indian Olympic medallist at 96.

Having migrated to Bombay from Nairobi at the age of seven, Pinto, who also played football and cricket with some distinction, missed the berth for the1936 Berlin Olympics owing to an injury. He earned the Olympic tag in 1948 as part of the gold medal-winning team in London under Kishan Lal.

Earlier, he had the distinction of playing under the great Dhyan Chand during the tour of Kenya. Turning up for the St. Lusitanians and then donning the colours of the famous Tata SC, he played in major competitions and became a darling of Bombay fans in the Aga Khan tournaments for over 25 years. Pinto was also a coach and selector.

Triple Olympian Balbir Singh (Sr), now in Vancouver (Canada), wrote in a tribute: “Leo was an outstanding goalkeeper. He was a team player and used to be an asset to the teams he represented during his active hockey career.

“I played against him on many occasions at the jam-packed Churchgate Hockey Stadium in Bombay in Gold Cup and Aga Khan tournaments.

“His reflexes under the bar were quick. He was a gentleman and a real sportsman. I have never seen him lose his temper. He was also a good singer and kept us entertained.”

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