India’s first Olympic swimmer Shamsher Khan passes away

Vijayawada: India’s first Olympic swimmer Shamsher Khan passed away in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district on Sunday, following prolonged illness. He was 87 and survived by three daughters and two sons.

Khan, who had represented India in 1956 Melbourne Olympics, breathed his last at his house in Islampur, a small village near Repalle in Guntur. According to family members, Khan, who was ailing for sometime, complained of chest pain but died before he could be taken to hospital.

The last rites will be performed in Islampur on Monday.

A forgotten sports hero, he was the first swimmer to represent India in Olympics. He narrowly missed a medal, finishing fourth in 200 meter butterfly and breaststroke events in Melbourne Games.

Khan, who created national record in the butterfly event, had learnt swimming after joining the Army in 1946. He took part in the 1962 war against China and the 1971 war against Pakistan.

After serving for 24 years, he retired in 1973 as subedar (JCO). He lived his last years in poverty.

Khan had suffered stroke in 2010 but was finding difficult to meet expenses even for his medication. He lamented on many occasions that the government neither recognized his contribution nor provided any financial assistance.

Leader of Opposition Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy expressed grief over death of Shamsher Khan and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family.