Simranpreet Kaur Bhath,the 18-year-old bronze-medal winner at the World Youth Championships held in Albena,Bulgaria,knows that her third-place finish will provide another occasion for her father to celebrate being a tee-teetotaler. Simranpreet lost to Kazakhstan’s Aidana Arapbayeva in the semifinals of the 60 kilogram category on Sunday.
Her father Kamaljeet used to be an alcoholic. It didn’t help that he used to work as an assistant in a liquor shop in Chakar,their native village near Ludhiana.
Her father though turned a new leaf when Simranpreet inspired by her elder sister Amandeep Kaur’s choice of sport,boxing started training at the Sher-E-Punjab Sports Academy and won a bronze at the junior nationals held at Patiala in 2011. Since that day,Kamaljeet decided to stop drinking. He hasn’t touched alcohol since,though he continues to pass it across the counter to customers at the liquor shop.
Kamaljeet was the first one to congratulate his daughter on Sunday. Simranpreet,the third of four siblings,recalled her father’s battle with the bottle.
My father used to drink a lot before but quit after he saw us winning medals. It was a remarkable transformation, Simranpreet,whose two brothers,Kamalpreet and Arshdeep,are also boxers,said.
My father still works at the liquor shop but now we want him to stop working there. But that’s what he has done all his life and he says he cannot give up his job. He is a teetotaler now and that has been the best reward for us. He normally works for more than 16 hours at the liquor shop, Simranpreet added.
Her first taste of success came in the form of a gold medal at the Punjab State School Games in 2010.
I took to boxing after my elder sister Amandeep Kaur,who is currently in the senior Indian boxing camp. Coach Balwant Singh has been instrumental in moulding our careers. We could not afford the boxing kits and shoes but the academy provided us with the equipment and also paid out school fees, she said.
The youngster was also part of the Indian Youth team,which took part in the Serbia Invitational Tournament. She is currently a part of the Indian Youth national camp. Before she turns senior,Kaur hopes to play in the Youth Olympics qualifiers to be held in April next year.