Coincidences can happen anywhere, even when the chances are as bleak as searching for a hairpin in a haystack. Two of the country’s most talented sportspersons — Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardee, trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu, and the only woman cricketer to have played 100 ODIs for India, Arjuna Awardee Anjum Chopra —share a common past.
They both went to the same school — Delhi Public School, RK Puram — and studied in the same grade at the same time. At the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday, they were there to receive the country’s highest honours for sportspersons, full of admiration for each other.
“Yes, we’ve studied in the same school and in the same standard but in different sections,” said a beaming Anjum, adding: “While I’ve studied in the school right from the primary classes, Manav joined in the XIth standard.
“We had a few common friends and we occasionally went out with the group,” said the Air India commercial manager. “I am extremely happy for Manav. He came and congratulated me today.”
Manavjit, the world trap champion, who flew down to Delhi from Lonato (Italy) specially to receive the Khel Ratna, said he was very proud of Anjum’s achievement. “I am happy for her and our school.”
Manavjit became the third shooter after rifle marksman Abhinav Bindra and Athens Olympics silver-medallist R.V.S. Rathore to be conferred the highest sporting award.
“The Khel Ratna is every sportsperson’s dream. I have come specially for the award (from Italy) and will fly back tomorrow for the World Championships (to be held in Nicosia, Cyprus, from September 1 to 10),” said Manav, even as his adoring family — his wife, parents and brother — watched him appreciatively from a distance.
“I am working harder than ever on my fitness and training,” said Manav, who seems to have lost a lot of weight due to his strenuous regimen.
Even as the world champion was receiving the award from President Pratibha Patil, and the crowd clapped unceasingly as the roll of honour was read out, Manav stood proud and tall, as if warning the world to be ready for his challenge. The Olympics, after all, are just a year away.Old pals Manavjit and Anjum glitter in shared glory.