New Delhi: India's ace defender and penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh is back and has been told to join the conditioning camp in Barog in Himachal Pradesh from May 13 for the Athens Olympics. Jugraj was injured in a car accident near Jullandhar in September. He makes a comeback just when the team has been not in the best of form. After a great season last year and winning a tournament down under, the Indian team went on to win the Asia cup and the Afro-Asian Games beating Pakistan.His comeback is a big shot in the arm for India's gold medal hopes.Dhanraj recallIndian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief K P S Gill has indicated that Dhanraj Pillay could make it to the team for the Athens Olympics. This after former players, journalists and even politicians joined hands to fight for Pillay's re-instatement in the team. The IHF meanwhile has made Rajinder Singh the chief coach in place of Harendra Singh for the four-nation tournament in Japan, starting on May 13.A united protest led by former players and journalists in New Delhi that has sent a very strong message to the Indian Hockey Federation. Miffed at the treatment meted out to star forward Dhanraj Pillay, members of the media and former players sat in protest at the National Stadium on Thursday demanding his immediate reinstatement.Kalmadi steps inIn an unprecedented move Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi also joined the growing voice of support for Pillay, urging the authorities to consider including the hockey player in the team for the Athens Olympics. " I told him we have got a very good young side ... but there should be some experienced players in it who have taken part in the Asian games and Olympics. And Dhanraj Pillay is now a legend of our times and he should be definitely be given an opportunity", said Suresh Kalmadi, President, Indian Olympics Association.Players supportDescribing Dhanraj Pillay as the Sachin Tendulkar of Indian hockey, former captain of the Indian cricket team Bishen Singh Bedi also made a fervent appeal to the IHF.The IHF had hinted at health reasons for dropping Dhanraj, which former players feel is just an unfair excuse.''Just give him an opportunity, and we are sure he will prove himself. And Dhanraj himself has said that if he doesn't, he will quit'', Merwin Fernandes, Former Hockey Player. Though the country has rallied behind the ageing Dhanraj, the question if the IHF will set aside its internal squabbles and actually allow the mercurial genius to set the arenas of Athens aflame, is still unanswered.
Topics : Hockey