Tushar Das Ace on the floor
For all you hockey lovers roaring for Ranchi Rhinos, here’s a global triumph from a special stick wizard.
Jamshedpur’s floor hockey ace Tushar Das (21) won team silver for India at the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games, which concluded at Pyeong Chang, South Korea, on Tuesday. Tushar, Jharkhand’s lone entrant in India’s 58-member contingent, scored the solitary goal against Taipei in a closely fought final, which India narrowly lost 2-1.
Compare this to India’s dismal hockey rank — 12 out of 12 — in the London Olympics.
It speaks volumes about India’s special sporting talents. Over 2,200 athletes from across 120 nations who took part in South Korean Special Olympics will vouch for it. India clinched 40 medals, including 13 gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze — a dream scorecard for the country’s regular athletes.
Back in Jharkhand, celebrations have started, although the Jamshedpur boy — Old Baradwari resident and Day Care Centre student — will come in Jamshedpur on February 8.
Tushar’s father Narayan Das confessed this was the proudest moment of his life. “I am moved, elated. It is all due to the state unit of the Special Olympics Bharat,” he added.
“We will honour Tushar. It’s a proud moment for the state,” said Special Olympics Jharkhand assistant area director Satbir Singh Sahota.
He added he was confident. “True, it was Tushar’s first international. But he was focussed. And he slogged it out.”
Coach Avtar Singh, who’s had Tushar under his wing for 8-9 years, couldn’t stop beaming. “We expected India to win gold but silver is huge too. And Tushar played very well. Smart moves, speed, confidence. I’m proud of him,” he added.
Tushar went to national training camps in Shimla, New Delhi and Shimla again. But just before leaving for South Korea, he took a crash course under Singh on the basketball court of JRD Tata Sports Complex. “Tushar had gone through the grind in three training camps conducted by Special Olympic Bharat. Still, they wanted to Tushar to pick tips from me. I am happy I could do my bit,” the coach said.
On his tips, Singh said though the youngster played on the right flank, “I told him to focus on his left”.
“Players who master an attack from the left make life difficult for opponents,” he grinned.
Achal Gaurav, the sole special Olympic gold winning athlete from Jharkhand, and silver winning Alpana Kumari had come JRD Tata Sports Complex to egg Tushar on.
Now, Tushar joins the elite list of Jamshedpur’s special athletes Vijay Mishra, Achal Gaurav, Alpana Kumari and Rajeev Singh who represented Indian floor hockey at Special Olympics World Winter Games. State players who donned India jerseys in special Olympics include Sanjeev Sharma (bronze in Alaska, 2001) Rajeev and Vijay (silver, Japan, 2005), Achal and Alpana (gold and silver, Idaho, the US, in 2009).
Tushar is the sixth. Sensational, we say.