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Friday, December 11, 2009

Edition 4 : Deccan Gymkhana

Quest for development of sports and sportsmanship amongst the youths, led the foundation of Deccan Gymkhana in 1906, the pre-Independence era, when sports was the least concept of recreation amongst the Indians.
Establishment of Deccan Gymkhana can be conveniently related to the enthusiasm towards cricket, commonly found amongst the Indians during the fag end of 19th century. These cricket passionate puneites started playing the game of cricket at the outskirts of Pune city. Gradually the fervor raised to its summit, with the players volunteering relentless efforts to nurture this piece of land so as to enjoy good game of cricket. This laid the cornerstone of the Deccan Gymkhana club.
Young Mens Cricket Club was established with an objective to provide better opportunities to young cricketers. Afterwards, the members of this club grouped into two, one being the Deccan Gymkhana. Many renowned cricketers have honed their skills practicing their game at Deccan Gymkhana cricket ground.
During the year 1913, wrestling competitions were ogranized by Deccan Gymkhana in it premises with zealous participation from all quarters of the society. Wrestling started to blossom at Deccan Gymkhana and subsequently formed a major activity at Deccan Gymkhana. This laid the foundation of Athalye Pavilion, the place where these days a stat of an art gymnasium is being run.
The development work at this place, a residential colony was planned with a view to execute the expansion of club and the infrastructure in an efficient way. The construction work of this excavation, live water springs were unearthed and the visionary founder members of this club gave a thought to make use of this natural water for developing a swimming pool. Thus the only swimming pool in Pune with the treat of live springs came into existence. Swimming pool was followed by development of tennis courts, badminton halls and table tennis facility.
In 1923, the great Mahatma Gandhi extended his courtesy visit to Deccan Gymkhana and was extremely delighted and impressed with the activities and proposed objective of Deccan Gymkhana.
The management team at Deccan Gymkhana sought cooperation from Sir George Loyyed, the then Governor of Mumbai province, who extended generous concessions to Deccan Gymkhana to run its activities.
As the days passed, Deccan Gymkhana broadened its base by adding a exclusive gymnasium to the infrastructure.
The Indian contingent participate in the Olympic Events for the first time during 1920 Olympic games at Antwerp. The selection trials for Wrestling & Athletics were conducted on Deccan Gymkhana, thanks to the contemporary facilities at the club and relentless efforts of the then administrators. Legendry J C Owen has made a proud mention of Deccan Gymkhanas contribution to sports in his book based on the topic Sports in India in 1927/28. Billiards & Cards department was introduced alongwith the existing facilities. We can proudly state that renowned billiards players Wilson Jones commissioned his career in Billiards at Deccan Gymkhana.
About tennis, initially there were only three courts, which were increased later on considering the continuos demand for the game. In 1938 a tennis match between legends like Bill Tilden and Henry Koshet was arranged at Deccan Gymkhana.
A cricket match between Indian team and Deodhar XI was arranged at our cricket ground in 1947 in honour or Prof. D.B. Deodhar, the Pitamah of Indian Cricket. World reckoned Yoga Guru - Dr. B.K. Iyyengar, regularly conducted yoga classes at Deccan Gymkhana on invitation.
Not restricting the creative thinking for the development of club only, the then administrators took inexorable efforts to establish sports governing bodies to execute the development of respective games in Maharashtra.
Coming back to Tennis, in 1962 a tennis match was played between Ramnathan Krishnana and Emerson on the sand courts of Deccan Gymkhana. Subsequently, considering the inconvenience caused due to the sand courts, development of tennis courts with Non Slippery stone base was undertaken.
This raised the number of tennis courts in Deccan Gymkhana to 7. Today, Deccan Gymkhana can proudly offer 11 tennis courts, with 7 synthetic surfaced courts and 3 of them equipped with floodlight facility.
With excellent sports facilities to offer, Deccan Gymkhana got the opportunity to his Davis Cup tie between Indian and Pakistan in 1963. This tradition continued with three more Davis Cup tournaments against Japan (1969), West Germany (1970) and Russia (1974), taking place at Deccan Gymkhana courts. Soon Deccan Gymkhana was reckoned as the heart of sports culture ;in this part of the state. This rich tradition of sports culture continued its journey through out the last century, wit6h refinement.
This legacy of sports, health & fitness has helped Deccan Gymkhana produce as many as 41 Shiv Chattrapati / Arjun Awardees (State / National awards for excellence in sports), with more than 12 players representing India in varous desciplines and many more National players.

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