On Sunday, as curtains drew over the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games in Australia and the Indian contingent finished third in the medal tally with a total of 66 medals, Haryana led the medal tally for India with a total of 22 individual medals including nine gold, six silver and seven bronze. With 38 Haryana players competing in Australia out of the total 218-member Indian contingent, the medal haul was slightly over one-third of the 63 individual medals won by India. According to the new policy that got the Cabinet green light just last week, the gold medallists will be awarded Rs 1.5 crore, silver medallists Rs 75 lakh and bronze medallists Rs 50 lakh. Neighbouring Punjab, meanwhile, accounted for only five medals from the 31 players the state sent to Australia.
“It is all due to the never say die attitude of Haryana players and the fact that it is a competitive society. Haryana people believe in doing and they don’t give arguments of not being able to it. And the incentive of jobs and cash prizes always inspires Haryana athletes. All the gold medallists will be given Group A posts in Haryana government according to the new sports policy apart Group B and Group C jobs for the other medallists. Our focus will now be be make Haryana a hub for sports training and talent spotting in the future,” said Ashok Khemka, principal secretary, Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry.
For a state that got just five medals including a gold, 3 silver and one bronze in the 2006 CWG, Haryana stepped up its game to win for 32 medals in 2010. In 2014, it was 19. Among the 22 Individual medallists from Haryana in CWG 2018, nine went to wrestlers including gold winners Jhajjar’s Bajrang Punia and Charkhi Dadri’s Vinesh Phogat. Karnal’s 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala became the youngest Indian gold medallist in CWG and when 20-year-old Neeraj Chopra from Khandra village from Panipat won the gold medal in javelin throw, he became only the fifth Indian athlete to win gold at CWG.
“Nobody in our village knew about javelin throw and it was at Shivaji Stadium in Panipat that Neeraj learnt javelin from fellow athlete Jai Veer before training at athletics nursery at Panchkula. Neeraj had proved that with right training atmosphere and opportunities, Haryana players can excel in athletics too. Cash rewards and jobs come after the medals and government should think about training the players at the junior level apart from providing coaches for junior players,” said 46-year-old Bhim Chopra, father of Neeraj Chopra.
The last one year has also seen Haryana opening up 440 sports nurseries in 10 games in every 22 district of the state with plans for 680 more nurseries. While neighbouring state Punjab’s medal tally slipped from nine medals in 2014 CWG to five medals this time, Haryana’s graph has risen. “We want Haryana players to opt for whatever sports they like. We have started construction of synthetic athletics tracks in all districts apart from building facilitation centres with audio visual aids. There are currently four multipurpose halls undergoing construction with one in Panchkula already functional since last four months apart from opening up a sports development institute in Panchkula. 440 sports nurseries in 10 games in 22 districts have been started and remaining 680 nurseries for 15 games will be started soon,” said Jagdeep Singh, director sports and youth affairs, Haryana.