An anthem mix-up!

At the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, Jyotirmoyee Sikdar won two individual gold medals and a team silver. But there was a mix-up by the organisers during the medal ceremony when they played the wrong country's anthem.

Jyotirmoyee Sikdar of India crosses the finish line to win the gold medal as China's Wang Qingfen and India's Sunita Rani finish second third respectively in the women's 1500 metres event at the Asian Games 1998 at Bangkok, Thailand on December 14, 1998.   -  V. Sudershan

The Asian Games (Bangkok 1998) was well on its way when the athletics event started and India had not been able to strike anything significant till then.

When I won the 1500m gold, it was the first big medal for India in that Asian Games. It was a big moment of glory as my country could make a significant mark.

Next, I picked up the second gold, this time in my pet event, the 800m. It was a great feeling as I alone had picked up two individual golds in the total of seven golds that India won in that edition.

I attempted the 1500m as a side event. When I saw that I could win the 1500m with a good timing, I became confident of putting up another good showing in the 800m. I had trained for the event with all intensity and had got a lot of support from the federation, which helped me with a foreign coach and a doctor from a full six months before the event. I could improve my timing because of that.

Getting to that level was quite difficult 20 years ago as the facilities were minimal. The athletes now get a lot of international events all through the year and that helps them maintain a good level of performance. They are getting 80 percent more support that what we used to get.

I particularly remember the mix-up during the medal ceremony of the 1500m when the organisers played the national anthem of China instead of the Indian national anthem (Wang Qingfen of China had won the silver). I felt quite embarrassed with the mix-up, standing on the victory stand. The organisers, however, were quick to realise their mistake and rectified it.

(As told to Amitabha Das Sharma)

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