AFI shocked at passing away of Asian Games gold medallist Praveen Kumar Sobti
New Delhi : The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Tuesday expressed its deep shock at the passing away of Asian Games medallist in hammer and discus thrower, Praveen Kumar Sobti, here on Tuesday at the age of 74.Sobti, who became famous when he played the Pandava strongman Bhim in BR Chopra’s iconic television serial ‘Mahabharat’, won consecutive gold medals in discus at the 1966 and 1970 Asian Games held in Bangkok, besides winning bronze in hammer at the 1966 Games.He also won the 1974 Tehran Asian Games silver in discus, besides silver in the 1966 Commonwealth Games at Kingston in 1966.Sobti also competed in the 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympic Games where he produced his career-best hammer throw (60.84m) and discus throw (53.12m), respectively.”AFI family is in deep shock on the passing away of Olympian & Asian Games medallist Shri Praveen Kumar Sobti ji, 74, today. He became a household name with his role of ‘Bheem’ in BR Chopra’s epic show ‘Mahabharat’. RIP sir,” AFI tweeted on Tuesday.
AFI president Adille J. Sumariwalla said Indian athletics had lost a wonderful ambassador in the death of Sobti. “He will remain an inspiration for years to come as he is a great example of an athlete who gave his best on the international platform in the 11 years that he competed at the highest level,” he said.Hailing from a humble family in Sarhali Kalan village, 50km south of Amritsar, Sobti rose to win the 1966 Commonwealth Games hammer throw silver which was the country’s maiden medal in a field event in the CWG and only the second in athletics after Milkha Singh’s 440 yard gold in 1958.”It is this quality of raising his game at the biggest of stages that made Praveen Kumar the top-notch performer,” Sumariwalla said.
“To have achieved all this at a time when training for major competition entailed only short stints in a National camp speaks volumes about his natural talent and the passionate fire that drove him to achieve excellence.”Before his foray into acting, Sobti started his working life with the Border Security Force. Sobti, who towered at 6 feet 5 inches, is best remembered for his on-television characters Bhim in ‘Mahabarat’ and Saboo in the Raghubir Yadav-starrer ‘Chacha Chaudhary’, based on Pran Kumar Sharma’s hugely popular comic-book series in Hindi.Interestingly, his Chacha Chaudhary character was a giant alien from Jupiter, who provides protection to the elderly Chacha.Apart from having a busy film and television career, Sobti also dabbled in politics — he stood in the 2013 Municipal Corporation of Delhi (2013) elections and subsequently joined the BJP.