Hockey umpire Sharma upbeat about officiating in Olympics

August 3rd, 2008 - 5:21 pm ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, Aug 3 (IANS) Though eight-time gold medallist India will not be competing in the hockey event of Olympics for the first time, the country will have an representation from the sport in Satinder Sharma, who will officiate in the Beijing Olympics. Sharma is the first Indian hockey umpire to be listed on the elite panel of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and will be doing duty in his second Olympics.

“Olympics is the biggest sporting event and it always have a special charm for me. It is a great pride for me that I have been called to officiate in the Beijing Olympics,” Sharma told IANS.

Sharma, a first grade umpire in India, says that his job is not a cake walk.

“We have to upgrade ourselves by learning new trends and rules of the game. We also have to be remain physically fit and alert and for that we do running and weight training excercise.”

It will be the second Olympics for Sharma as he had officiated in five matches in Athens. Sharma made his debut as an international hockey umpire in 2000 against South Africa and Egypt.

India made its hockey debut in Olympics in 1928 and it is for the first time in 80 years that India failed to qualify for the Olympics.

“We have won so many gold medals in hockey in Olympics and it is very demoralizing that our team could not qualify for Beijing. But we have to take it as a challenge,” says Sharma, an officer in State Bank of India here.

Sharma, who has officiated in 103 international matches, is only 14 matches away from the award of ‘Golden Whistle’ which has been awarded to only 26 umpires so far.

He will leave for Beijing tonight and attend a pre-Olympics training camp scheduled Aug 5-7.

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