Pune, July 1 (IANS) Suresh Kalmadi Monday accepted his defeat gracefully as he lost his re-election bid for the president of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) to Qatari Dahlan al-Hamad and said he would go back and work at the "grassroots" level.
"I have no issues today and I congratulate Mr Al-Hamad for being elected as President. I am rather relieved that I will be able to work at the grassroots level in athletics," Kalmadi said after losing the vote during the ongoing AAA Congress here.
Kalmadi, a former president of the Indian Olympic Association, lost 18-20 to Al-Hamad, who is the senior vice-president of AAA, during the 20th Congress of the continental body as his 13-year run as the AAA president ended in his home town here.
Kalmadi's exit was similar to his rise when he became the AAA president in 2000, beating then incumbent Indonesian Bob Hassan 19-15 on his home turf in Jakarta.
The Congress was attended by 45 member-countries with each member having a vote. Seven votes were invalid. The Congress was also attended by International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) president Lamine Diack. Kalmadi was presented a plaque by Diack.
Kalmadi, however, will continue as the IAAF Council member till 2015 when the world body holds its elections. Kalmadi will now become the life president of the AAA, a norm for all the past presidents. He can attend the AAA Congress but without any voting rights.
--Indo-Asian News service