How Covid-induced delay in Tokyo Olympics turned out to be boon for two hockey stars

Indian hockey team is riding high after its heroic performance at the Tokyo Olympics; the three players were in Khanna, Ludhiana, to attend a function on Thursday
Hockey players Gurjant Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Hardik Singh at a felicitation ceremony in Khanna near Ludhiana on Thursday. They were the part of Indian hockey team which bagged bronze in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. (Gurpreet Singh/Hindustan Times)
Hockey players Gurjant Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Hardik Singh at a felicitation ceremony in Khanna near Ludhiana on Thursday. They were the part of Indian hockey team which bagged bronze in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. (Gurpreet Singh/Hindustan Times)
Published on Sep 10, 2021 02:34 AM IST
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By Nikhil Sharma, Ludhiana

The delay of one year in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 worked wonders for two key Indian hockey players, who played pivotal role in creating history this year.

Indian hockey team is riding high after its heroic performance at the multi-sport event as it ended India’s Olympic medal drought of 41 years after striking bronze with a fabulous performance.

Gurjant Singh, forward expert of the Indian hockey team, revealed that he and Harmanpreet, vice-captain of the team, could have missed the Tokyo Olympics if the games hadn’t been delayed for a year due to the pandemic. “Both of us had suffered serious injuries and underwent surgeries. If the games wouldn’t have been delayed, we both might have missed the chance to be a part of the history,” Gurjant said.

Harmanpreet, along with his teammates Hardik Singh and Gurjant, was here to attend an honorary function at Gulzar Group of Institutes, Khanna, on Thursday.

Motivating the students, Gurjant said, “I was dropped from the team a few times, but still made it to the Olympics. Once the goal is set, one needs to work dedicatedly and fearlessly to achieve it. We are not satisfied yet as we want to get gold for India in the Paris Olympics.”

On the dinner hosted by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh for Olympians in Mohali on Wednesday, the three hockey players said it was a “life-time experience” as the CM himself cooked and served food to the players.

Since their return from Tokyo, the players have been travelling across the country to attend honorary functions and felicitations, but they have yet to start preparing for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year.

“It feels amazing to get so much love and respect from the people around. Our lives have changed after we bagged the medal. We have been so busy attending the felicitation ceremonies that the team hasn’t got the time to start the preparations for the upcoming mega sports events. Moreover, our training camp is yet to be scheduled following which, we will start our practice,” Harmanpreet said.

Talking about hardships and communication gaps experienced by them during the lockdown, Hardik Singh, midfielder in the national team and nephew of hockey legend Jugraj Singh, said, “Since the beginning of the lockdown in March last year, the team had been staying in Bengaluru. There used to be a very little communication with the outside world. We all stayed away from our loved ones. Our families used to hide any bad news from us to help us stay focused. Today, all our sacrifices have paid off.”

Gurkirat Singh, executive director, Gulzar Group, announced a scholarship of 1 crore for the budding players of their campus. “Our students have played at the university and national levels and in future, they will be honoured with the scholarship for bringing the medals,” he added. BCM school principal Paramjit Kaur and motivational speaker Gaurav Deep Singh were the special guests on the occasion.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021