Kapil lone Indian at Laureus Awards

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2001, 19:49 [IST]
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New Delhi: From being the world's highest wicket-taker in cricket to rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers of the world, Kapil Dev has made the transition as easily as swinging the cricket bat or the golf club. The bitterness of last year's match-fixing controversy in India, from which Dev emerged clean as a whistle, is finally behind him, as is the game of cricket. In its place are a plethora of activities, from selecting athletes for one of the most prestigious international sports awards to installing floodlights at golf courses to rubbing shoulders with celebrities at international galas. Dev, 42, was a special guest at the annual Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco earlier this week where ace golfer Tiger Woods and sprinter Cathy Freeman were crowned the year's best male and female athlete respectively. The gala event was attended by Prince Albert of Monaco, Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones, basketball star Michael Jordan, retired tennis ace Ivan Lendl, former England football captain Bobby Charlton and Kenyan middle distance runner Kip Kieno. "It's surely an honour for the country," commented Abbas Ali Baig, a former Indian Test batsman. "It is a pity that a sportsman of his eminence should have cut himself off from a sport that he graced for over 20 years." Accompanied by wife Romi, Kapil, one of the 42 founding members of the Laureus World Sports Academy set up last year to honour the world's best athletes, was the lone Indian at the May 23 function. Former West Indies captain Vivian Richards and former England captain Ian Botham were the only other cricketers there. Dev also attended a meeting to finalise the nominees for the awards a couple of months ago. The star-studded panel that picked the winners from the nominees included former hurdler Edwin Moses and pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka. More than 300 sports journalists from some 75 countries had earlier chosen the nominees. No Indian sportsperson figured in the awardees list. Among the nominees were the Australian cricket team, cited for the Team of the Year Award, and Australian fast bowling sensation Brett Lee, for the World Newcomer of the Year award. Dev severed his links with cricket in September 2000 when he resigned as the coach of the Indian cricket team in the wake of the match-fixing controversy. Based in New Delhi, Dev's latest venture has been the installation of floodlights at a golf course in Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab and Haryana. He took on the project at the request of his erstwhile cricket coach, Desh Prem Azad, and completed it last year. "The course is so beautiful that when Kapil first visited it, he wondered whether he was in India or in a foreign land," Azad had said then.

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