BAHAWALPUR: The death of three-time Olympian Motiullah Khan, once known as Moti (gem) in local sport circles, was received with a shock by those who had seen him playing, those who sought his coaching for improving their hockey skills and those who remained associated with him after retirement from the game and government service.

Over 82, Motiullah had been bed-ridden in his house in Baggikhana on Government Sadiq Egerton College Road for the last one year due to multiple diseases, including blood pressure and cardiac issues. He died on Thursday night.

Motiullah Khan was the uncle of former hockey legend Samiullah Khan and his brothers Kalimullah Khan and Hidayatullah Khan.

According to sport record, Motiullah Khan played in left-out position and represented Pakistan in the Olympic games of 1956 (Melbourne), 1960 (Rome) and 1964 (Tokoyo).

He also participated in the Asian Games of 1962 in Jakarta. He won gold medal in 1960 Summer Olympics and silver in 1956 and 1964 Summer Olympics. He was also awarded Tamgha-i-Imtiaz in 1963. He played over 68 international matches and scored 13 goals.

He was also awarded a medal by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) in 1958 and then in 1971.

Motiullah was given job in the Pakistan Railways where he served as special ticket collector (STC) in trains in Multan and Bahawalpur railway regions. He always used bicycle to travel over five kilometres from his residence to the Bahawalpur station. The international hockey stadium here was named after him as the Motiullah Hockey Stadium built on the Dring Stadium lawns to acknowledge his services and contribution to the game of hockey.

He would visit the stadium regularly to coach new players without an material gain and remained popular among players.

After his retirement from Pakistan Railways, Motiullah would visit the Bahawalpur gymkhana as long as he remained in good health. He would also visit Hanif Pan Shop and Habib Hotel in Farid Gate where he would spend time with his friends, including this correspondent.

During his illness, local sports associations and clubs had demanded his treatment at government expenses besides special monetary help through the Punjab Sports Board.

According to Divisional Sports Officer Maqsood Ahmed, the PSB would pay some stipend to Motiullah quarterly. Later, on the direction of former Divisional Commissioner retired Capt Zafar Iqbal, he was provided free medicines and doctors would visit him during 2021.

CONDOLENCE: Field hockey legend Samiullah Khan has sent a condolence message from England on the demise of his uncle Motiullah Khan, the hockey Olympian who died here after a protracted illness the other day.

In his message, Samiullah paid homage to his late uncle and recounted his achievements in field hockey by participating in three Olympics during the 1960s. Former bureaucrat Dr Raheel Siddiqui, who was ex-principal secretary to the CM, and former parliamentarian Syed Tabish Alwari also sent condolence messages on Motiullah’s death.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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