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Paralympics bronze medallist reaches Punjabi University, remembers days spent on campus

Harvinder, who became the first Indian archer to win a medal in archery in Olympics or Paralympics, hails from Ajitgarh village in Kaithal district in Haryana and had come to Patiala in 2012 to pursue studies and later archery.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 16, 2021 1:49:18 pm
Archer Harvinder Singh wins bronze medal in men's individual recurve event (Twitter/Department of Sports MYAS)

On Wednesday afternoon, as Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist archer Harvinder Singh reached the Punjabi University campus along with his coach Gaurav Sharma and father Paramjeet Singh, the 29-year-old was reminded of all the memories of training as well studying at the campus grounds and the economics department. Harvinder, who became the first Indian archer to win a medal in archery in Olympics or Paralympics, hails from Ajitgarh village in Kaithal district in Haryana and had come to Patiala in 2012 to pursue studies and later archery.

The Tokyo Paralympics medallist got emotional on being greeted by Prof Arvind, Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, along with other staff.

“It’s a matter of pride today that I have returned to my second home after winning the medal in Tokyo Paralympics. The journey as a student as well as an archer started for me in 2012. I remembered all the days spent at archery grounds or the libraries at the university. I hope my medal will inspire youngsters as well sportspersons in the universities all over India to dream big, and my message to them is to never stop believing in their abilities,” said Singh while speaking to The Indian Express.

Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Prof. Arvind greets Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist Harvinder Singh and his Archer Coach Gaurav Sharma during a felicitation ceremony at Punjabi University in Patiala on Wednesday. (Photo: Harmeet Sodhi)

With his father Paramjeet Singh owning 18 acres of farmland at their village Ajitgarh, an 18-year-old Harvinder had suffered impairment in his left leg after being given a wrong injection by a local doctor. Harvinder would initially show interest in studies but his interest in archery grew on seeing the sport on TV during the London Olympics in 2012. Harvinder, who had come to Punjabi University for studies, started the sport under coach Jiwanjot Singh Teja and later Gaurav Sharma. Harvinder would initially start in compound event and won two medals in the Indian round competition in the nationals in Maharashtra early in his career. After three years of competing in compound events, Harvinder shifted to recurve event, an Olympic event.

In 2016, Harvinder won two bronze medals in para nationals in Rohtak, followed by him finishing seventh in World Para Archery Championships in China in 2017. One month after he lost his mother Harbhajan Kaur, Harvinder won the gold medal in the W2/S2 event in Asian Para Games in Indonesia in 2018. In 2019, Harvinder had qualified for Tokyo Paralympics with a joint ninth-place finish in World Para Archery Championships in Netherlands. Last year, Harvinder trained on the farm of his village during lockdown and also had suffered from dengue.

“The bronze medal has come after an effort of the last nine years. I am thankful to my coaches that they kept faith in me and kept motivating me. To be able to give my best in Asian Para Games and now the Paralympics, the biggest competition for archers, has motivated me further and once the full training resumes, my eyes will be on the next targets, including next year’s Para Archery World Championships, followed by Asian Para Games as well 2024 Paris Paralympics. Haryana government has also started preparations for building an archery range in Kaithal district as well other districts and to see more youngsters pursuing the sport will be my biggest reward,” said Harvinder, who is pursuing PHD in economics from the department of economics and also met his supervisor Dr Anupama Uppal and guide Prof Kanwaljeet Singh.

Coach Gaurav Sharma, who has seen Harvinder’s journey from the start, too was present on the occasion. Sharma had made Harvinder practise shoot-offs prior to Tokyo Paralympics and at Tokyo, Harvinder won three shoot-offs including his bronze-medal match shoot-off 6-5 win over Korea’s Kim Min Su.

Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Prof. Arvind greets Tokyo Paralympics bronze medallist Harvinder Singh and his Archer Coach Gaurav Sharma during a felicitation ceremony at Punjabi University in Patiala on Wednesday. (Photo: Harmeet Sodhi)

“We knew that shoot-offs can happen at Tokyo and that’s what we trained Harvinder in special practice sessions. He kept his cool in all the shoot-offs and the bronze medal has come at the right time for Indian archery. I can correlate my journey as an archer with Harvinder’s journey and to see him win the Paralympics medal is the biggest thing which a coach can ask for. This medal has also given boost to those who have given up on their effort or discourage themselves and has motivated them not to lose hope. This is a historic moment in Indian archery and we wish it will lead to more such medals,” Sharma said.

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