After a long wait of more than 21 months, three Para Asian Games medalists from Punjab were Thursday given cash awards of Rs 50 lakh each by State Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi here.
26-year-old shot-putter Mohammed Yasser, 29-year-old power-lifter Paramjeet Kumar and 34-year-old badminton player Raj Kumar had won bronze medals in the 2018 edition of the quadrangular event.
While the Punjab government had organised a state-level function to honour the medalists of the 2018 CWG and 2018 Asian Games that year, the medalists of the Asian Para Games at Jakarta, Indonesia missed the function.
Yasser, who had won the bronze in shot-put in the F 46 category at Jakarta, and who had suffered impairment in his left hand at the age of eight, believes cash awards should be given within a small time frame to help athletes prepare for next competition.
“My father Saudagar Khan owns two acres at our village Mohammed Pura in Sangrur. He did not have the means to support my dreams. When I started shot-put at Government College, Malerkotla, my coach Harminder Pal Singh supported me. Before the Games in 2018, I had won bronze in China Grand Prix in 2016 and silver in Dubai Grand Prix in 2017. I also won the national title for three consecutive years from 2016. Not getting the cash award for Asian Games medal, I felt demotivated at times and struggled with finances as I do not have a job. I am glad that we were given the cash award today and it will help me prepare for next year’s Paralympics when competitions resume,” said Yasser while speaking with The Indian Express.
Raj Kumar, who is from Sanaur village near Patiala, was the member of the Indian badminton team which won the bronze at Jakarta.
The para-badminton player had also won two medals in the 2014 Para Asian Games held at Incheon, South Korea. In 2014, the cash award for Para- Asian medalists was less as compared to the 2018 Sports Policy of Punjab government.
Rajkumar is currently ranked fifth in the world rankings in SU-5 Doubles category and is hopeful of qualifying for next year’s Tokyo Paralympics.
“Para Games medals too carry similar weightage as per the new sports policy and the medalists of Asian Para Games could be included in the cash award function for Asian Games in future,,,,” said Raj Kumar.
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