Son of a marginal farmer and belonging to Dalelwala village of the “backward” Mansa district, Swaran Singh (24), who brought laurels to the country and Punjab by bagging a gold medal in the 15th Asian Senior Rowing Championship at Luan in China this year, has been ignored by the state government.
There was no official reception for Swaran, when he returned to his native village a week ago. He is waiting for the government to take notice of his achievement even though it had no hand in his success.
Swaran was not a sportsperson till he joined the army. Initially, it may be the outcome of his “greed” for promotion in the army, but later all he had on mind was to bring laurels to the country, state and the village too. “After I got defeated by rowers of other countries, it became a challenge for me to outclass them and I did it,” said Swaran.
Despite the fact there is no rowing facility in Punjab, Swaran, who never got a chance to participate in any sport at school level, beat rowers from Iran and China with a timing of 7:31.88 minutes in the 15th Asian Senior Championship. When he came to Dalewala last year, he was welcomed by villagers.
When he tried to get his name registered in the list of sportspersons from the district, he claimed that he was insulted by the district sports officer. Swaran was reportedly told that he is from the army and his medal would not bring any laurels to the state.
“My honesty too had worked for me. Once in army, everyone was asked to submit their height. Many of my colleagues who wanted to escape from being selected for the Republic Day Parade stated their height less than 6 foot. Later we came to know that those above 6 foot have been selected for sports. I chose rowing as I had not pursued volleyball that I used to play during my schooldays,” said Swaran Singh.
“I hope that someday the government will rise above politics and will start honouring players who had achieved success at international level and promote games at the district level,” Swaran hoped.
“Ghaggar near Sardulgarh is enough to cater to needs of rowers. Only the state’s efforts are required as Punjabis have calibre to achieve their goals,” he said.
Record so far
Swaran joined army in 2008 and was selected in the rowing team in September 2009. In February 2011, he won gold medal in the National Games at Jharkhand.
He won bronze medal in the 14th Asian Senior Rowing Championship in 2011 in South Korea. After clearing Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta, Swaran achieved 16th position in 2012 London Olympics.
He achieved the 12th rank in World Championship-2013 in South Korea and remained on 17th position in 2011 World Rowing Championship at Bled, Slovenia.