I chose to stay back in the village even though my entire family is in Delhi to see Alka perform at the Commonwealth Games as I did not have the courage to see her had she lost in the bout today. Agar haar jati to dekh na paata. Alkas father Nain Singh Tomar thus explained the reason for not being there with her daughter in her moment of glory. His blessings however bore fruit and she claimed a gold in the 59 kg freestyle category in wrestling by defeating an Olympic medallist in style.
He has been distributing sweets to the neighbours and in fact the entire village is celebrating Alkas triumph at the Games. Hundreds of villagers gathered around her home is Sisoli village,in Meerut and were dancing on the beats of dhols and nagaras. A proud father requested this correspondent to talk to some of them and be it Satish Goswami,Dr. Anil Kumar,Nepal Masterji,Dharamveer Goswami and Sudhir all were proud of this Sisoli village girl.
Staying at home,Nain followed the success story of his daughter keenly and was in tears when she won a gold. She phoned me soon after the fight to say, Papa,I have bagged a gold, he tells The Indian Express with pride.
Nain has been the main force behind Alkas success. He was the target of all criticism when he decided to bring his daugther into wrestling. I wanted to make her a PT Usha and performing true to my expectations she used to win all the medals in athletics competition at school level. Later,I realised that she had a lot of power in her and belonging to a family of pehelwans,she too should take up the sport. That is how she joined wrestling.
When Alka claimed the bronze today,Nains joy knew no bounds. He informed Alka over phone that he had been watching her on the television. Her mother Munni Devi along with her two wrestler sons Jagminder Singh Tomar and Ravinder Singh Tomar,the latter being a international while the former having won golds at the nationals,were all in Delhi to see Alka fight today.
In 1999 when Alka took to the sport of wrestling,kushti (wrestling) was considered to be a mardon ka khel (mens sport). Leaving her village along with her two brothers for daily practice at the wrestling stadium of Chaudhary Charan Singh University,Meerut required a great deal of courage. Criticism came in not only from the neighbours but also her mother Munni Devi who too was against even at the thought of a girl becoming a wrestler. At the varsity too,there was not even a single girl trainee to practice with when Alka took to the akhara,but thanks to Alkas popularity there are 35 girl trainees today.
Nain Singh Tomar who had been a wrestler himself stood by the decision he took. He knew that Alka had an extraordinary talent in the sport. He got her hair chopped off so that her looks could match the sport and the hair could not be a hindrance in her becoming a successful pehelwan (wrestler). Today,after almost 12 years,the approach of the people of Sisoli village has changed and the changing factor has been Alka.