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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

‘Diet’ goes for a toss, as Olympians tuck into ghee-laden food cooked, served by Captain

While Chopra had missed the awards function for the Olympics medalists on August 12 due to high fever, Amarinder Singh had told the other players that he will cook dinner for them in their honour.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 9, 2021 2:13:36 pm
Amarinder Singh, Amarinder singh lunch for lympians, Olympians lunch, Tokyo Olympics, Chandigarh news, Olympics, Punjab, Indian ExpressPunjab CM Amarinder Singh hosts Tokyo Olympics Gold medallist Neeraj Chopra. (Express Photo)

It has been a month and a day since Neeraj Chopra created history at the Olympics Stadium at Tokyo by becoming the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold with a javelin throw of 87.56m. Prior to that historic day, the 23-year-old from Haryana would rarely have diet cheat days. The story, however, was different on Wednesday evening as he bit into “mutton khara pishori”, served to him by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

“It was rich…quite a bit of ghee…but excellent food,” Chopra later said.

The delicacy was served by Amarinder was also cooked by him. The Punjab CM had donned the chef’s hat, and an apron, earlier in the day to prepare a sumptuous food for his guests – Chopra and the Olympic medal winners from Punjab, including 11 members of the Indian hockey team – at his farmhouse Mohinder Bagh in Mohali.

Apart from “mutton khara pishori”, the menu had “laung ellachi chicken”, “aloo korma”, “dal masri”, “murg korma”, “dugani” biryani and “zarda rice” (sweet dish) – all cooked by Amarinder.

“It feels very special. I guess it’s the first time that any CM has taken time out to prepare food for the athletes. It shows his love for the players and the sports. We pray that Capt Amarinder Sir keeps doing such things for players and we too keep winning medals in future,” said Chopra.

The Haryana athlete said, “While I had a strict diet prior to the Olympics, the last one month has seen me forgetting about the strictness. Soon my training will begin and I will be back on the strict diet routine”.

While Chopra had missed the awards function for the Olympics medalists on August 12 due to high fever, Amarinder Singh had told the other players that he will cook dinner for them in their honour.

On Wednesday, Amarinder and his younger brother Malwinder Singh turned into the “khansama” .

“I started at 11 in the morning. Most of it was done by around 5 pm, and then it was time for some final touches. But I loved every minute of it,” said the CM.

“They (the sportspersons) worked so hard to win us glory, what I have done for them is nothing in comparison,” he remarked as he greeted the guests personally, with no sign of fatigue from all those hours of cooking and supervising the arrangements.

Amarinder along with Punjab Sports minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi served the food to the players including Chopra and Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh. “The food always tastes better if served directly from the cooking vessel,” Amarinder said.

Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh said he had heard about the Maharaja’s cooking but what he savoured Wednesday exceeded his expectations. His personal favourite was the “aloo” dish.

“What can we, as players, ask for more, when the CM of the Punjab makes and serves us food. This is one of the best recognition for the bronze medal. The personal touch in hosting us all is a big gesture on CM’s part,” said Manpreet Singh.

Discus thrower from Muktsar Kamalpreet Kaur, who finished a creditable sixth in her first Olympics with a best throw of 63.70 metre, said she was truly impressed by both food and the hospitality of the chief minister.

Amarinder Singh with Manpreet Singh CM Amarinder Singh with Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh.

Earlier in the day, Punjab government rewarded Chopra with Rs 2.51 crore. Chopra will resume training later this year for next year’s Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Athletics Championships. He believes that his gold medal will help the country take more interest in athletics and particularly javelin throw.

“We have seen Punjab and Odisha being the hockey hubs. I believe that there will be more and more talent in javelin throw emerging all over India. We have seen good javelin throwers from Punjab as well Haryana apart from South India, which has also produced Kashinath Naik Sir, a 2010 CWG bronze medallist. AFI has declared javelin throw competitions in each district on August 7 every year. Having good infrastructure all over India too will promote the sport,” he said.

The youngster, though rued the fact that Flying Sikh Milkha Singh could not see him winning the gold medal at Tokyo. He said he will will Milka Singh’s son Jeev Milkha Singh. “This gold medal was the need for Indian athletics to grow and dream big. That was the dream of great athletes like Milkha Singh Sir, PT Usha ma’am since the last many decades. My medal is for every Indian athlete and for legends like them,” he added.

Rana Sodhi said the Punjab government will seek Chopra’s expertise to promote javelin throw in the state. “What he has achieved is to be celebrated by the whole country. We would seek his advice and expertise in some form to help youngsters take up the sport in Punjab. Punjab has a history of good athletes and we hope that youngster will take inspiration from Neeraj and aim big,” said Sodhi.

2018 Asian games bronze medallist cyclist Gurlal Singh was also given the Rs 50 lakh as cash award for his achievement.

Besides Chopra, special guests for the evening included Olympics bronze medallist hockey players Manpreet Singh (captain), Harmanpreet Singh (vice-captain), Mandeep Singh, Hardik Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Varun Kumar and Simranjit Singh. Women hockey players Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Krishan Bahadur Pathak and Kamalpreet Kaur were also among the guests. Race-walker Gurpreet Singh and shooter Angadveer Singh Bajwa were also invited for the dinner.

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