Suresh Kalmadi has had an eventful journey as a sports administrator. He has been the Indian Olympic Association chief for 16 years and has been at the helm of Asian Athletics Association for 13 years. After losing the AAA elections in Pune on Monday, Kalmadi's career as a sports administrator has come to a full stop. The Asian athletics' post was the last one Kalmadi held as a sports chief. (Kalmadi loses bid for Asian Athletics Association chief)
President of the IOA for 16 long years, the Pune MP brought the 2010 Commonwealth Games to India. The inaugural Afro Asian Games 2003 in Hyderabad were also held under his leadership. If that is not enough, Kalmadi even played a crucial role in getting an F1 race to India. (Mixed reactions from sport fraternity)
It all went downhill once his name cropped up in a Commonwealth Games scam where Kalmadi was alleged to have given inflated contracts to UK-based company AM Films and Cars. Kalmadi allegedly received 4 crore in kickback from the British firm during the Queen's Baton Relay in London. (No issues with loss, says Kalmadi)
The Congress party suspended him after his arrest in 2011. And in 2012, he stayed away from contesting the IOA polls. His last bastion was the AAA. But now, with that gone, Kalmadi has no more role in sports governance. (New AAA president to focus on strategy, planning)
There is a lot of anger against Kalmadi in the Indian sports fraternity. Legendary Milkha Singh advised Kalmadi to refrain from sports administration and focus on his political career.
"Suresh Kalmadi should have left sports administration after the CWG scandal and he should not have contested that AAA elections. Everybody knows his role in the CWG scam. My advice to him is that forget sports now and concentrate on politics," Milkha told PTI.
"What has he done for Indian athletics? He does not know A-B-C of any sport. What do you expect from such a person for the development of athletics?" Milkha fumed.
However, former India long jumper Anju Bobby George feels India will miss the experience of Kalmadi as a sports administrator.
"It was a bad news for India as Kalmadi was a very experienced sports administrator. He was the president of Asian Athletics Association for many years and IOA chief. He did a lot of things for Indian sports in general and for athletics in particular. So I think it will be difficult to find a person to replace him," said Anju.
Commonwealth Games Gold medallist and India's top discus thrower Krishna Poonia told NDTV that she "regretted" the result of the AAA polls that Kalmadi narrowly lost by two votes.
"He has done a lot for Indian sport. A lot of development in Indian sport has been done by Kalmadi only. I would not like to comment on the criminal case, which is still under investigation. What I would rather say is about the sports where he has done more than enough. I would also like to say that whether sportpersons or not, all those who encourage sports should be given full backing," said Krishna.