IOA appoints Ajit Pal as Chef-de-Mission for London Olympics

New Delhi: After failing to meet the March 23 deadline, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Monday appointed former hockey captain Ajit Pal Singh, who led the eight-time Olympic champions to their only World Cup win in 1975, as Chef-de-Mission for the 2012 London Games.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra told IANS that the seven-member committee always wanted an Olympian to lead the Indian delegation in London and Ajit Pal, a three-time Olympian, was the perfect candidate. It will also be the first time that a former sportsperson was given the honour to lead the Indian delegation.

"The committee felt that only an Olympian should be named as the the Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent. The committee felt that Ajit Pal Singh was the perfect candidate. He is not only a three-time Olympian and but also led the team to a World Cup win in 1975," Malhotra said.

Ajit Pal told IANS it was an honour for him.

"It feels great that former sportspersons are also considered for top jobs in Indian sports. It is a great honour for me and I will try to give my best," he said.

The hockey legend said he was surprised at the IOA's decision.

"The announcement came as a surprise. But I felt good that for the first time an Olympian was considered for the job," he said.

Ajit Pal's appointment came as a surprise as he not in the fray. IOA vice-president Tarlochan Singh and Weightlifting Federation of India (WFI) chief B.P. Baishya were contenders but now they will go only as delegates and IOA observers.

The IOA was divided in two camps over the appointment of Tarlochan and Baishya as the Chef-de-Mission. But since no compromise formula could be found, Ajit Pal was given the honour. (IANS)