When most of the Punjabi youth dream of singing “God Save the Queen” (England’s national anthem), Navjot Chana, whose father is a British citizen, could have the UK citizenship easily. Instead, he preferred to don the Tricolour and make his own country proud.
On the opening day of the 2014 Commonwealth Games on Thursday, Chana, a judoka from Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, won the silver medal in the 60kg event. “Winning a medal for the country is the greatest honour for an athlete but I am disappointed about missing out on the gold,” he told HT on telephone from Glasgow, where he lost the title bout on points to England’s Ashley McKenzie.
Chana’s father, Paul Singh, moved to England with his father in the early 1970s for better living; but instead of making his children embrace the Union Jack, inspired them to represent India in games. “Because of circumstances, he failed to be a weightlifter but he motivated his three children, including my sister, to represent India in the games field,” recalled Chana, an assistant sub-inspector in Punjab Police.
His younger brother, Navdeep, is inspector in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, thanks again to sport.
Their sister, Sazida, first international player from the family, got her coaching diploma recently from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala.
“My father told me there is no better place to live than one’s motherland. We were raised with that value and the thought of going for the citizenship of another country never crossed our mind,” says Chana, who has three Commonwealth Championships gold medals, and who missed out on a medal by a whisker in the 2010 Asian Games.