“62 years later, Mary Dsouza: Pioneer of women athletics in India, will finally be honored”

Mary Dsouza India's First Female Olympian and Double International
Mary D’souza: India’s First Female Olympian and Double International

The wait for recognition from the Indian Govt. for Mary Dsouza (81) is finally over.  Mary Dsouza (Sequeira) from Aldona (Goa) set a trail for other Indian Women in the field of Sports in India. After 62 yrs she will be finally honored with Dhyanchand Award,  India’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and games, given by the Government of India.

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Indian contingent at Helsinki Olympics 1952

Indian contingent at Helsinki Olympics 1952

Mary Dsouza  was part of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics — the first time India sent women athletes to the quadrennial games. She won bronze in the 200m and silver in the 4x100m relay at the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi. At Helsinki Mary Dsouza (competed in the sprints) & Nilima Ghose (competed in 100m and 80m hurdles) were the first Indian women Olympians, they may have not broken or set any records but they were the trendsetters for the rest of Indian sportswomen.

Remember this great athlete called ‘Jesse Owens‘ whom we studied about when in school? It is indeed an honor for us Goans, to know that our very own Mary Dsouza was training herself along with Jesses Owens in those days!

Mary D'souza with Jesse Owens in India

Mary Dsouza with Jesse Owens in India

Mary Dsouza training with Jesse Owens

Mary Dsouza training with Jesse Owens

Mary Dsouza’s Achievements:

  • Won bronze in the 200m and silver in the 4x100m relay at the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi.
  • Represented India for the Olympics in 1952 in Helsinki.
  • Selected to represent India in Melbourne Olympics 1956 (did not go due to lack of funds)
  • Asian Record Holder for 100 meters
  • Indian Hockey Player
  • Represented India for World Cup Hockey in London 1953
  • Represented India for World Cup Hockey in Australia 1956
  • Indian record holder from 1950-1957 in 100m , 200m and 80m Hurdles
  • Indian National level represented from 1950-1957
  • Represented India in Srilanka 1957 Track meet
  • Represented India in India v/s Japan 1962 for Hockey
Mary D'souza in action

Mary Dsouza in action

Mary Dsouza’s Records:
100m National record of 12.3 seconds set in Feb 1954 at National meet at Delhi and same was repeated in 1956 Nationals at Patiala was all time fastest timing by Indian female in 100m till 1959.
Mary was four times the National Champion in 100m and 200m
100m
12.7 seconds: Madras National 1952
12.6 seconds: Jabalpur National 1953
12.3 seconds: Delhi National 1954
12.3 seconds: Patiala National 1956
12.4 seconds: Patiala National 1956
200m
26.1 seconds: Madras National 1952
26.2 seconds: Calcutta National 1955
25.7 seconds: Patiala National 1956
25.7 seconds: Patiala National 1956
80m Hurdles
12.7 seconds: Jabalapur National 1953

Mary Dsouza and the team at the 2nd Asian Games won the 4 x 100 meter relay with a New Asian Games Record of 49.5 seconds.

Winning Indian Relay team at the Asian Games Manila 1954 1  (Mary D'souza first standing from the left)

Winning Indian Relay team at the Asian Games Manila 1954 1
(Mary Dsouza standing first from the left)

Our veru own superstar Mary Dsouza with Harrison Dillard American winner of 1952 Olympic games 4 time gold medal winner

Our very own superstar Mary Dsouza with Harrison Dillard, American winner of 1952 Olympic games & 4 times gold medal winner

Yesterday the Sports Ministry’s awards committee, headed by Sports Secretary Pradeep Kumar Deb, has approved the names of Syed Ali (hockey), Anil Mann (wrestling), Mary Dsouza (athletics) and Giriraj Singh (para athletics) for the award. The Dhyanchand award is given for lifetime achievement in the field of sports. While she’s being honored by the central Govt. her recognition is still due in her own state.

Nilima Ghosh & Mary Dsouza with the winning US men relay team at 1952 Olympics

Nilima Ghosh & Mary Dsouza with the winning US men relay team at 1952 Olympics

Team of Goenchi Mathi salutes and congratulates Mary Dsouza for her achievement and courage. We are proud of you!
Photo credit: Marissa Sequeria (Mary’s daughter) & Jojo Dsouza (Mary’s nephew)

Reference

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/The+Indian+kaleidoscope/2/12177.html
http://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/four-names-cleared-for-dhyanchand-award/article5000296.ece
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhyan_Chand_Award
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Dsouza-Indias-First-Female-Olympian-and-Double-International/162144710503498

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Posted on August 8, 2013, in Goans Who Made Us Proud, Interesting, News Makers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Susan Philomena Noronha

    Though some years junior to Mary D”Souza,as a daughter of Quitula,my heart burst with pride to read of the achievements of our very own Olympian,and was taken aback,that I had never heard of Mary!I will be forwarding this email to all my family and friends in Toronto,Canada.
    I recognised just Damascene Soares in the list of people who had sent comments,as he was a student in St.Thomases school,and I wish we could have a social gathering of all the Aldonkars,living abroad,who might be interested in visiting Toronto,where we have a very large immigrant population from Quitula and Aldona.
    Congratulations Mary,you make us all proud!
    Susan P. Noronha(Correia)

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  2. It’s never too late!

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  3. A photo of her as she looks today was very much due. She must have aged too gracefully.

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  4. peter fernandes

    I remember Mary D’Souza representing India along with Levi Pinto our Indian 100 metres champ at that time. They were both good sprinters representing India so well. We as Goans were so proud to read their achievements in the daily “Times of India” Sports Columns.
    I too was a very keen sportsman who had Joe Crasto, my school sports master and another
    equally able sprinter of the caliber of Levi Pinto.
    When Jesse Owens who under the aegis of National Sports Club of India was coaching at Vallabhai Patel Stadium I too availed of his talk and though as a 15 year old could not be trained by him was very much taking part in the sessions then.
    Mary D’Souza, Levi Pinto, Joe Crasto & John Crasto (Sports columnist for “Times of India” and Neville DeSouza (scorting that famous ‘hat trick’ in ‘football’ at the 1956 Olympics in Australia made india and Goans proud. There were other notable Goans during that decade mostly in football, hockey and athletics who shone so proudly for India. If only they had the same facilities that athletes from other European, Australian, Canadian and other countries had at that time, they would have been spoken of by our children and grandchildren for a long long time.
    Again, I must thank you “Goenchi MAthi” for bringing memories of the fame of Mary and other Indian Sportsman back to us.

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  5. Damascene Soares

    Regarding Mary D’Souza and Late Walter D’Souza, it has been declared in the Herald Newspaper today, that the Quitula Sports Club has decided to name two parallel roads near the football ground in Quitula after these two olympians.. This resolution will be put up at the meeting of the Gram Sabha in Aldona village.

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  6. Damascene Soares

    It’s good to see our own Mary D’Souza from Quitula, Aldona has finally been given her due recognition in the field of sports. We still have another Olympian, late Walter D’Souza, an ace hockey defender,I have seen him in action in Mumbai, also from Aldona to be honoured. We are so proud of these athletes.
    Damascene Soares, Aldona, Goa.

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  7. Albert.Alphonso

    neville D souza who played football for caltex and represented India around the same time(1952);Edward .Sequeira a fine athelet 800 and 1500 mts

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  8. Eugene Correia

    Thanks for the splendid piece. As a journalist, I had the pleasure of interacting with Mary many times and also being her “attendant” on a trip from Pune to Mumbai, as I couldn’t get ticket and she said I could accompany her. Wish I could get her telephone number and/or email contact.
    Saw the blog for the fist time and was impressed. Need to check the archives. Will do when I get free time. Keep it up

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  9. Its indeed a proud moment for all of us that Mary D’Souza (Sequeira) a pioneer of women athletics in India has been finally recognised with the coveted “Dhyanchand award” for lifetime achievement in the field of sports. Better late than never. It is also disheartening to know that while she’s being honored by the central Govt. her recognition is still due in her own state Goa. She is not alone there are numerous talented Indians who made the nation proud but were forgotten…

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    • Well said Dr. Bagchi. We hope the Dhyanchand Award for Mary Dsouza would be an eye opener for the State Administration. It’s time we give some recognize to all the unsung hero’s who have made their country & our state proud. If you are aware of more such unsung hero’s not just in the field of sports but also other fields, do inform us 🙂
      Email: goenchi_mathi@yahoo.com

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