Tendulkar flying high

Rare honour… Sachin Tendulkar being awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik (right), chief of the Air Staff, at a function, in New Delhi.-SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY Rare honour… Sachin Tendulkar being awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by Air Chief Marshal P. V. Naik (right), chief of the Air Staff, at a function, in New Delhi.

The master blaster is the first sportsperson to be conferred a rank by the IAF and the first personality without an aviation background to receive the honour.

India's batting great Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the honorary rank of group captain by the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for his contribution to cricket.

Tendulkar, 37, was conferred the honour by Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Naik, amid loud applause from fellow officers at a ceremony in the Indian capital.

“It was wishful thinking (that I would be part of the armed forces) and it has come true today. I'm extremely proud to be a part of the IAF. So dream, because dreams do come true,” Tendulkar said after being inducted.

Naik said he hoped Tendulkar's induction would inspire India's youth to join its armed forces. “Sachin's association will help in spreading awareness about our force,” he said.

Welcoming Tendulkar into the Indian Air Force, Naik said: “I have been Sachin's fan since he started playing. It is a momentous occasion for the IAF that he has joined the ranks as group captain.”

Giving reasons for awarding an honorary rank to Sachin, the IAF chief mentioned his qualities like tremendous and exceptional service to the nation, professional excellence, single-minded devotion to duty, dedication and perseverance, courage in adversity, loyalty to friends, humility and upholding the Indian family values.

He further said that all of these qualities in Sachin are required in the Air Force also to serve the nation and to make the IAF as one of the most professional Air Forces of the world.

Tendulkar is the first sportsperson to be conferred a rank by the IAF and the first personality without an aviation background to receive the honour. Tendulkar, who sets the cricket field on fire with his bat, now wishes to light up the skies by flying a Sukhoi-30MKI, the most lethal fighter jet in the Indian Air Force.

Replying to a question about the fighter plane he wished to fly, the batting legend said: “I want to fly a Sukhoi-30MKI.”

Naik said that Tendulkar would soon be flying sorties in Su-30MKI, and added that it depends on the master blaster to make himself available for this purpose.

* * * Tintu's feat

India's Tintu Luka shattered the 15-year-old women's 800m national record as she ran 1:59.17 to finish a creditable fifth in the VTB Continental Cup in Split, Croatia.

RAJEEV BHATT

Luka, who was representing Asia Pacific in the top-flight competition which was earlier known as the World Cup of athletics, bettered the national record of 1:59.85 which was in the name of Shiny Wilson since 1995.

Shiny's 800m record was one of the oldest in Indian athletics before it was shattered by Luka.

Only eight athletes took part in the race in Croatia — the season's top two each from four continental groupings of Asia Pacific, Americas, Africa and Europe. Luka, a protege of legendary athlete P. T. Usha, was the leading athlete in Asia this season.

This was also Luka's first sub-two minute performance in her career, bettering her previous best of 2:00.79 which she set while finishing eighth in the final leg of the Diamond League series in Brussels, Belgium.

Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya, representing Africa, won the race in 1:57.88, while Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica (representing Americas) was second in 1:58.16. Mariya Savinova of Russia (representing Europe) was third in 1:58.27 while Jennifer Meadows of Great Britain, who was also representing Europe, was fourth in 1:58.88.