Updated: August 14, 2021 6:21:10 am
As Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Ravi Dahiya made his way to receive the cash award of Rs four crore from Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya at the state-level function in Panchkula on Friday, the 23-year-old wrestler from Sonepat’s Nahri village, was keenly watched by his family members. His fellow wrestler and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and his mentor Satpal Singh applauded as Dahiya stepped on stage.
For Dahiya, who won India’s second individual silver medal in wrestling in Olympics after wrestler Sushil Kumar’s silver medal in London Olympics, it was an emotional moment.
“Tokyo Olympics was my first tournament and to return home with a silver medal is the biggest joy. I am bit disheartened that I missed the gold medal, but I will aim for it in 2024 Olympics,” said Dahiya.
While Dhahiya won silver at Tokyo, 27-year-old wrestler Bajrang Punia returned home with a bronze medal in the 65 kg category in freestyle wrestling event at Tokyo.
“While there is definitely a pressure of playing in Olympics for every athlete, I was eager to give my best despite my injury and that’s what motivated me in the bronze medal bout too. I am happy to return with the bronze medal for the country and hopefully the colour of the medal will change in 2024,” said Bajrang, who was given a cash award of Rs 2.5 crore.
While his wards Bajrang and Ravi got the honour, 66-year-old former wrestler and 1982 Asian Games champion Satpal Singh was also watching the two wrestlers. “Both were outstanding. The medals are results of the effort of all the hard work by the wrestlers all these years. We coaches became a medium to help them achieve,” said Satpal.
Bajrang’s father, Balvan Singh Punia, was also present. “Bajrang told us that he will return with a medal. He played despite a knee injury and has made us proud,” shared Balvan Singh Punia.
While Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra could not attend the event due to fever, he shared his views virtually.
“This gold medal is for the whole country. Even though I could not attend the function, I know that this medal will inspire all of India. I am thankful to the Haryana government for supporting each one of us,” shared Chopra. His cash award of Rs six crore was received by his family.
While Surinder Kumar and Sumit Walmiki, members of the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal winning men’s hockey team, were given a cash reward of Rs 2.50 crore each, nine members of the Indian women’s team, which finished fourth in Tokyo, and including skipper Rani Rampal apart from Udita, Sharmila Devi, Savita Punia, Nisha, Neha Goyal, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur and Monika Malik were given a cash reward of Rs 50 lakh each. Wrestler Deepak Punia, who lost the bronze medal bout in the 86 kg category and boxer Pooja Rani, who lost in the quarter-finals in Tokyo, were given a cash reward of Rs 50 lakh each too.
“The way we have been accorded the welcome and love by the whole nation despite missing the bronze medal have only motivated us for the future. The whole country cheered for us and this semi-final finish in hockey in Olympics is no less than a medal finish for each of us,” said Rani Rampal, skipper of Indian women’s hockey team, who was cheered by father Rampal.
Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya gave away cash awards amounting to more than Rs 23 crore to the 32 Haryana players along with job offer letters as per the state’s sports policy. “Despite having only 2 per cent of the country’s population, about 25 per cent participation is from Haryana in the Olympic Games, which is a matter of pride. Among the seven medal winners, Haryana accounts for four. I urge the youth of the state to opt for any sports along with their studies,” said the Governor.
While Haryana CM M L Khattar could not attend the function due to the demise of his brother, the event was attended by Dushyant Chautala, deputy CM of Haryana.
Chautala announced that five sports centres of excellence will be opened in Haryana.
Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh announced that four rehabilitation centres will be opened in Haryana.
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