October 9, 2017

Lt. Col. Makkolath Rajan, legendary former Indian basketball coach, passes away at 83

One of the most successful and distinguished basketball coaches in India, Lt. Col. Makkolath Rajan passed away at age 83 in Kozhikode (Kerala) on Sunday, October 9. Rajan, who made his mark for India on both the national and international stage and coached India's only Olympic basketball team, had been hospitalised with pneumonia symptoms in Kozhikode a few weeks ago.

Rajan was the head coach of Team India's men's national team for the country's most famous international basketball outing: the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The team lost all seven games they played in Russia but their place in Indian hoops history was secured with this historic accomplishment. Rajan also coached India at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, plus the FIBA Asia Basketball Championships in 1973 (Manila), 1985 (Kuala Lumpur) and 1989 (Beijing).

Rajan is the winningest coach in India's national basketball championships, with many gold medals collected in the 70s and 80s with Services. He coached Madhya Pradesh and served as Associate Secretary of the Kerala Basketball Association (KBA) from 1976-85. He held several posts with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) over the years.

Rajan was a distinguished medal winner for his role in Indo-Chinese war.

Rajan's wife passed on a message via Rajan's former player in the 1980 Olympics team, Amarnath N Nagarajan. "He was someone we all looked up to and will continue to do so. He is an inspiration to all of us. He always wanted us to be healthy and fit. Let's all remember and follow that in our busy lives. Sports was a way of life for him. He was a celebrated sportsman and brought laurels to the country. His discipline and dedication towards sports and the Army will always be remembered."

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