No kudos for India’s other gold medallist at Olympics

September 1st, 2008 - 5:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 1 (IANS) Did you know that India won two gold medals and not one at the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Sunita Lamba, a fine arts artist from Delhi, won a gold at the games for her sculpture, but so far she has received no felicitation from the government. Lamba, the sister of late cricketer Raman Lamba, had sent her sculpture, “Spirit of Unity”, for Olympic Fine Arts 2008, an exhibition put up by the organising committee at Beijing, and it was selected for display.

“The chairman of the International Olympic Committee inaugurated the exhibition Aug 11 and on the very same day they announced the gold medal for me,” Lamba told IANS.

“I was also given an Olympic torch besides the certificate of winning the gold medal,” Lamba added. Shooter Abhinav Bindra is the only sportsperson to have fetched a gold for India at the games this time.

Lamba’s gold medal will be given to her after the 40-day exhibition gets over. The show will run for a few months in different areas of China itself and after that it will move to countries across the world.

The stars in her eyes clearly spell the joy of winning the gold medal, but the pain of being ignored by the authorities shows just as much.

“Is ‘art’ a discipline which doesn’t hold any importance for the country? More than 20 days have passed since I won the medal but no one has contacted me yet,” Lamba, who is 40 plus, said.

“I am not against any reward for any sportspersons but it pinches when the authorities completely ignore you,” she added.

“I belong to a sports family and I believe in sports. My aim is to move ahead in life,” said Lamba, who works with The Oberoi hotels in the capital and is a resident of west Delhi.

Before leaving for Beijing, she had even tried to contact Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi and union Culture minister Ambika Soni to tell them about her participation.

“I have been making sculptures for the last 25 years and my work was selected from among 10,000 entries for the final 110. Before leaving for Beijing I tried to contact both of them, but didn’t get any response from them,” Lamba said.

After waiting for long, she finally decided to contact the government herself and called Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit last week. Dikshit asked her to come to the felicitation function of Olympic bronze medal winner in wrestling Sushil Kumar at her residence Monday.

“But even here, Dikshit just introduced me to the media and that was it,” Lamba lamented. She was not even given a bouquet of flowers.

“Is ‘art’ not a discipline in itself?” she asked. “Everyone decorates their houses with costly art prices, but they are not ready to recognise it as a discipline,” Lamba said.

The saving grace was a call from father of boxer Vijender Singh, who won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.

“He congratulated me and expressed his regret over people’s ignorance. He said that art is also a sport and I really felt nice talking to him,” she said.

The artist will now soon be travelling to Beruit and the US where she will be showcasing her work.

“I have also decided to organise an art show in India in which I will invite the international artists who took part in the Olympics art exhibition,” she said.

Her elder brother, Rajan Lamba, was quite vocal in expressing his disappointment over her sister being ignored by officialdom. “The authorities only remember a few people and forget everyone else,” he said.

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