New Delhi : Olympic silver medallist pistol shooter Vijay Kumar returned home from London Wednesday to a rousing welcome by the Indian Army, which was out in full force and left no stone unturned to honour the hero.
Much before the Lufthansa flight touched had down, preparations had started at the international airport. And as soon as Kumar walked out with his Russian coach Pavel Smirnov, celebrations broke out.
An army band played the national anthem and then the drums thundered. Senior army officers welcomed Kumar with garlands. The Subedar with the Dogra regiment posed with his silver medal for the shutterbugs.
"It is a great reception and I am really touched by it. This is the first time I am getting such a welcome," Kumar told reporters at the airport. Kumar was then driven away in an open Gypsy to to the army headquarters, where more celebrations are planned. Kumar says he is unhappy with the Indian Army for not being given a single promotion in the last six years despite winning medals at major international events.
Sports minister Ajay Maken has asked the defence ministry to change its promotion rules for outstanding sportspersons. The sports ministry has made provisions for three out of turn promotions for Olympic medalists. But the Army Sports Control Board has informed Maken that Kumar is eligible for only an out-of-turn promotion to subedar major. Kumar, however, maintains that this was already due before winning the silver at London.
"I had done the country proud by winning at major events in 2006, Delhi 2010 (CWG) and London 2012 and was expecting promotion and decorations. As sportspersons we also have expectations," Kumar said. "Offers have started to pour in from all quarters and the sports minister has openly said that I can be given a job in SAI at the IAS officer s level. I am expecting a similar offer from army," he said.