R.I.P. ex Stanislite LEO PINTO, Olympic Gold Medallist , Goal Keeper & Goal Scorer (1948)
In his message to SportsBandra ’08, our patron, Leo Pinto pleaded “keep the fire (for sports) always burning (in our hearts)” … we’ll try and emulate your ideals … always!
(i am re-producing here an article from this morning’s Times of India)
Leo Pinto, India’s oldest Olympian, is no more
PINTO WAS THE GOALIE WHEN INDIA WON GOLD AT THE 1948 LONDON OLYMPICS
Olympian Leo Hillary Knowles Pinto, the oldest living Indian sportsperson, passed away on Tuesday. He was 96.
In 1936, Pinto was a certainty for the Berlin Olympics but missed it after suffering a serious concussion during the Olympic trials. He was India’s goalkeeper at the London Olympics in 1948 when India won the gold.
Born in Nairobi, Pinto came to Goa and then Bombay where he studied at Antonio De Souza and St Stanislaus. He learnt to play hockey, football, cricket, badminton and boxing. He was also very good in athletics.
At the age of 13, Leo, almost instinctively it now seems, took the decision to don pads and become a goalie. He played for Byculla Rovers in the Aga Khan Cup hockey tournament. Pinto had a good life with Tata Sports Club who made him manager of their hockey team even while he was playing. RK Vissanji employed him post-retirement at Wallace Flour Mills. In 1972, Pinto was coach of the Indian Olympic team and served on the Bombay Hockey Association in the 70s. He was also a good singer. Bach’s version of Ave Maria was a particular favourite.
About his goalkeeping, he would say: “I would narrow down the angle for the penalty-corner hitter by advancing towards him. I would watch the pusher and take off.”
In his time, goalies didn’t face penalty strokes. The one who was fouled would take a penalty against the one who conceded the foul. In the 1948 final against Britain, Leo was fouled. He removed his pads and took the bully and scored goal No. 4 against the British captain. That leaves him unique as a goalie who scored. His work under the bar in the semifinal against Holland is still talked about highly.
He used to feel sorry for Indian hockey and would always say that the game’s standard will not improve until we had an astroturf in every corner of the country. He had hoped to see that day dawn.
LEO LEGACY (1914-2010) Full Name: Leo Hillary Knowles Pinto Born: April 11, 1914 Birthplace: Nairobi Alma Mater: Antonio De’souza High School (Byculla), St Stanislaus High School (Bandra), St Xavier’s College Position: Goalkeeper Clubs: Byculla Rovers, Tata Sports Club
Won the gold at the 1948 London Olympics
Was among the coaching staff of bronze-winning Indian team at the 1972 Munich Olympics
In the 1948 final against England, Leo was fouled. He removed his pads and scored goal number 4 for India