India’s first ever Olympian swimmer, Mehboob Shamsher Khan sadly passed away on Sunday due to a cardiac stroke at Kaithepalle village near Repalle town. Khan had previously suffered a heart attack, but was surviving on medications before eventually taking his final breath.
Khan, who served Indian army for near to 24 years of his career, became the first ever Indian swimmer to have finished in the 5th slot in the Melbourne summer Olympics back in 1956. And to everyone’s surprise, no Indian swimmer has managed to reach Shamsher Khan’s feat in the last six decades.
Two years before making history, 1954, Khan set a national record in the 200m butterfly and only a year later, he went on to break all sorts of records at the national meet in Bangalore. With that being done, his performances saw him being selected for India’s Olympic squad. Participating in an international event, however, proved out to be a stumbling block for Khan. The Indian government only decided to bear the air expenses, hence Khan decided to take a loan of Rs.300 from Army in order to underpin all of his other expenses, including food.
While talking about the same, Khan – in one of his last interviews with the Times of India – recalled, “In those my salary was just Rs.56 and Army deducted entire Rs.300 from my salary after my return from Olympics.” Khan had joined the Army in 1946 and served India in two of the biggest battles in country’s history. Furthermore, Khan has himself asserted that he learned swimming all by himself, he received his professional training after joining the Army.
Khan has two sons; the elder son Sajid Vali Khan is serving the Army, while his younger son Ali Khan stays at his native place. His daughter-in-law Rizwana Khan, as quoted by TOI, had said that Khan was upset with the government’s treatment of not giving him the deserved recognition, and also expressed how her father-in-law lived his life with top principles. “My father-in-law refused to take any financial assistance from locals saying that he is a fighter of Indian army and wanted to die like a fighter not a beggar.”