Harinder Pal Singh sets sights on Asian Games squash medalMay 17, 2018
Harinder Pal Singh is still picking up pieces from a dismal show in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Along with Joshna Chinappa, Harinder managed to reach quarterfinals in mixed doubles but his singles campaign ended in the second round. Although squash brought in two medals—both silvers—this time in mixed doubles and women doubles, Harinder is now looking to set things straight in the upcoming Asian Games in August.
He was a medallist at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, with India returning home with a team gold medal (of which Harinder was part) besides winning two silver medals and a bronze.
“It was hard luck in mixed doubles in CWG, we lost 11-10,11-10. We put up a good fight but somehow it wasn’t our day. Anyway, I am over it and the focus has now shifted to Asian Games. I had success there and I will surely like to win back-to-back medals,” said Mohali-based 29-year-old.
Squash didn’t have an ideal start for the Commonwealth Games with India’s foreign coach Achraf El Karargui quitting just before the event.
“The biggest challenge is to have a build-up. Earlier, the coach was available to discuss nuances of the game but now I am pretty much training on my own,” said Harinder, who trains in Indian Squash Academy (ISA), Chennai, due to lack of facilities in Chandigarh and adjoining areas.
Last year, till a swollen tooth forced him to pull out of the WSF World doubles squash championship, Harinder had a good- run winning as many as five Professional Squash Association (PSA) titles, four of them coming back-to-back.
“It happens in the game. Sometimes you are forced to stop and then analyse, all I can say is that I am much wiser now,” Harinder said.
Squash was the last choice
Considering that Harinder, as a 9-year-old never wanted to choose squash, he is happy to have achieved so much. A student of Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, Harinder’s first choice to pick up a game were cricket and tennis. But veteran coach AI Singh persisted and eventually had his way in getting young Harinder inside the court.
“I used to run away from the game. As a part of school curriculum, I had to take up a sport discipline. Squash was one of the many games offered and the coach drafted me in. I refused and AI Singh then approached my parents who asked me to try the game once. That is how I started,” he recalls.
The player recalls how after his coach shifted he and his father Harpal Singh Sandhu, who is SP in Punjab Police, decided to find an alternative venue so that he could follow his passion.
“That is when I shifted to Chennai,” the player said.
With an eye on Asian Games, Harinder has now chalked out his plans for the continental event starting in August. “First is fitness and endurance. I am trying to be physically fit for the game in the coming months. I will be off to playing British Open qualifying and a few PSA events before heading into Asian Games . The competition will be tough but I am hopeful I will be prepared,” Harinder said, who is also hoping for landing a job so as to get financial security.
Started: At the age of 9
PSA world rankings: 48th
Turned Pro: 2005
Idolises: Veteran athlete Milkha Singh and among his peers squash player Thierry Lincou
Apr 2018 Commonwealth Games doubles quarterfinals
Apr 2018 Commonwealth Games 2nd round
Feb 2018 Indian Open quarterfinals
Nov 2017 CCI International quarterfinals
Sep 2017 Malaysian Tour winner
Aug 2017 Indian Nationals semifinals
Jul 2017 Victorian Open winner
Jul 2017 South Australian Open winner
May 2017 Makati Open winner
May 2017 Malaysian Tour winner