It was a well-deserved welcome for 21-year-old Khushbir Kaur, who made the nation proud by becoming the first Indian woman to clinch a silver medal in 20-km race walk in the Asian Games 2014.
Khushbir returned her hometown Amritsar on Monday afternoon by a train after six months. At the railway station, Khushbir and her mother broke down emotionally. Khushbir was also seen signing photographs of her fans.
Khushbir, an MA student at Khalsa College for Woman, was given a warm welcome by principal Sukhbir Kaur Mahal, her coaches, fellow sportspersons and others.
Thousands of students applauded Khusbir on entry to the college, where she danced on the beats of dhol with her friends like Navjit Kaur Dhillon, who bagged a bronze in World Junior Championship held at Eugene, the US.
Overwhelmed by rousing reception, Khushbir said, "The love, respect and honour that I have received today has boosted my morale. Now, I am eyeing a gold medal in the Rio Olympics in 2016. Such encouraging moments make a sportsperson feel his/ her responsibility towards the country, state and the city."
She gave credit of her success to personal coach Baldev Singh and national coach Alexander Artsybashev.
Khushbir clocked 1:33:07 at the Asian Games by setting a national record and improved upon her previous best performance of 1:33:37, which was also a national record set in Japan in walking championship. "It is the biggest triumph of my career after winning a bronze in Japan. But I feel that I haven't been able to give my best at Incheon. I had 101% chance of winning a gold, but I feel, there had been some flaw in judgment, then the climatic and weather conditions weren't favorable and the road on which we walked wasn't very suitable and rightly designed. Above all, my left leg was strained, and thus, I was nervous to push myself on that type of road."
"For me bagging a medal is not a victory, good performance is," asserts Kaur, who belongs to a very simple family of Rasoolpur Kalan village.
"My father expired 14 years back and since then my mother Jasbir Kaur has struggled to bring up her five children, including me. We are four sisters and one brother. I am the youngest of the sisters and none of us are married. I am proud to be born in a simple and supporting family.
"It's true that we are weak financially; however, I am hopeful that if I bring laurels to the country and the state, I will be be getting some financial backing. I request the Punjab government to give me a job so that I can support my family."