Arpinder Singh of Amritsar, the brone medallist in the recent Common wealth Games, has highlighted the disparity in the prize money awarded to the winners by Punjab and Haryana.
Arpinder, who reached here on Saturday, said players needed a strong backing from their state governments, but unfortunately, Punjab lagged far behind Haryana in this respect.
The triple jumper told HT, "The non-encouraging attitude of our state government is the sole reason the Punjab youth is not aiming big in sports. If the government backs me well, I can even make it to the Olympics, but I have not many expectations from the state as I haven't even got the prize money of Rs 5 lakh for the 2011 national games."
Arpinder, who comes from Harsha Chhina village in this district, on Saturday, was given a warm welcome by his family and friends. There was also a road show organised by his family to honour his achievement.
The 22-year-old, who broke the national record in men's triple jump with a stupendous 17.17 m jump in the national senior athletics championships in June this year, couldn't maintain it in Glasgow.
He said, "Reaching the Commonwealth Games was in itself an achievement for me. I could have won the gold had my coach, Sukhdev Singh Pannu, with me. His absence made all the difference as my support system was missing. A sportsperson can always perform better under pressure if the coach is there to raise his morale. My event is also quite technical and the coach should have been there with me and then even a 17.20m jump would have been on."
"My next target is the Asian Games (next month, for which he has qualified), and if my coach accompanies me there, I would definitely get the gold, and then would target the Rio Olympics," Arpinder says.
Coming back to the Punjab government's "failure" to support sports in the state, Arpinder said, "Like other sportspersons, I also cannot hide my disappointment. When a sportsperson of Haryana comes back, their state government announces a cash prize of Rs 1 crore, Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, respectively, for the gold, silver and bronze, but when a sportsperson from Punjab comes back, the announcement is Rs 20 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 6 lakh, respectively. The figures say it all."
Talking about his work-out regime, he said, "There has been no laxity in our hard work. I have worked out and practised mornings and evenings. Every morning at 6, I am in the ground and am there till 9 am. Then in the evening, from 5 to 8, I practise. I want to thank my coach without whom this wasn't possible. I promise him I would bag the gold next time," he said.