Athletes from the Haryana won 40 per cent of India’s Commonwealth Games medalsAugust 10, 2022
If Haryana were competing as a country at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, it would be placed eighth on the medal tally.
That’s a fact. Of the 61 medals — including 22 gold – that the Indian contingent won in Birmingham, Haryana contributed nine gold. In other words, the athletes from the state contributed over 40 per cent of India’s gold haul in Birmingham.
Forty-three athletes from the state were part of the 207-strong Indian contingent, and at least 17 of them won medals, meaning the success rate was an impressive 39 per cent.
Haryana’s athletes were also part of the Indian teams that won silver and bronze medals in men’s and women’s hockey.Nine gold
The nine gold medals won by Haryana’s athletes would have been enough to pip Wales to the eighth spot in the medal tally. Wales, part of the United Kingdom, competed as a nation and finished with eight gold while South Africa and Malaysia won seven gold each.
But Haryana’s performance in Birmingham is not a one-off scenario. The state’s athletes have been the flag-bearers for India at multi-sports events for over two decades now.
Wrestlers Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat all won gold in their respective categories. Para-powerlifter Sudhir too made the country proud when he won the first ever gold in para category at the Commonwealth Games.
In boxing, Amit Panghal and Nitu Ghanghas won gold, while Sagar Ahlawat and Jaismine Lamboria won silver and bronze, respectively, to push India’s medal count. Race-walker Sandeep Kumar won a creditable bronze in the men’s 10,000m event as well.State with a past
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Haryana’s athletes had won 22 out of the 66 medals won by the Indian contingent.
At the Tokyo Olympics last year, the state’s athletes shored up India’s medal tally with three big medals. The biggest prize was won by javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who bagged India’s first-ever gold medal in track and field at the Olympics. Wrestlers Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia chipped in with silver and bronze medals, respectively.Sport pays
So how is that a relatively small state with a population of 2.7 crore contributes so significantly to India’s medal count?
The answer is simple: Incentives from the state government in terms of cash awards and job placements. Besides, with many athletes coming from farming families, Haryana athletes’ dietary concerns are always taken care of.
The state also has a rich past in sport, and a lot of role models to inspire young aspirants. As per two-time Olympian boxer Vikas Krishan, the state’s policy of providing jobs and monetary incentives to athletes is a big factor in promoting excellence in sports.
“The youngsters in Haryana know that they will get jobs and benefits if they win medals. Ours is a small state in comparison to most, yet a majority of the youth is seriously involved in sports,” he said.
“Agar quantity competitors ki jyada hoti hai, wahan se quality bhi ubhar ke aati hai… So if the pool size of your athletes is large, you will surely unearth talent from that bunch,” the boxer added.
Athletics coach JS Bhatia, interestingly, points out that the dietary habits of Haryana’s athletes make a lot of difference.
“I will say that two things make them stand apart. Firstly, the state has been rewarding them with monetary benefits,” Bhatia explained. “They hand out Rs 3 crore for an Asian Games gold medal. Other states have started to do the same, but Haryana has been doing this for a number of years. For the athletes, winning a medal becomes a life-changing event.”
“Secondly, I think most of the Haryana athletes come from a farming background. They get a lot of fresh ghee and milk from early on,” he added. “This, of course, is not the case for athletes coming from humble backgrounds.”
With youngsters like Nitu and Deepak Punia taking the baton from the seniors, Haryana’s dominance is set to continue.