How Haryana is setting a strong example for the rest of the country in sports
Haryana has always been at the foremost in sports achievement in the past decade. From the Indian contingent of 81 athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, 18 hailed from Haryana including all the top boxers and wrestlers. This, despite the fact that the state has a share of only about 2% of the national population.
Apart from Mary Kom and Vijay Kumar, the other four medal winners had some connection with one of the most economically developed regions in South Asia. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Haryana contributed no less than 22 of the 38 gold medals that India won (an astounding 60% share). The story didn't change much in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
And now, with the 2016 Rio Olympics on the horizon, Haryana is again one of the most talked-about places in the country.
What has been the secret of Haryana’s success?
There have been big and rare achievements in the state though people did not write about them much. Upcoming athletes are offered cash reward programmes and schools have made participation in at least one sports mandatory.
The efforts of the government have not gone to waste. Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has played a major role in the upliftment of sports in the state. His successor Manohar Lal Khattar has enhanced the rewards for medal winners and participants.
After performances in major international tournaments like the Asian Games and World Championships, players have been showered with cash rewards of millions of rupees and luxury cars. The London Games medalists, Sushil Kumar, Saina Nehwal, Gagan Narang and Yogeshwer Dutt were all awarded a decent cash prize for their achievement.
Such initiatives are bound to bear fruit in the years to come.
In the Sports Ministry's ambitious Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, Haryana and Punjab have the maximum representation. They have emerged as the sporting powerhouses of the country.
There is Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Phogat sisters. Vijender Singh, Vikas Krishnan, and Pinki Jangra are part of the scheme as well. Seema Punia, who recently qualified for the Olympic Games, belongs to this scheme to.
The women in Haryana aren’t too far behind the men. In a state where female foeticide is still a major issue, the Saina Nehwals, Rani Rampals and Phogats give hope about the end of the darkness.
The Indian women's hockey team qualified this year after a gap of 36 years. At first glance, it is difficult to believe how the Indian women's hockey team will win medals for us. On sheer physical strength, they don't appear to match up to their European counterparts. But it’s interesting to note that most of the players in this hard-working team are from Haryana.
The captain and mainstay of Indian men's hockey team, Sardar Singh, is also from Haryana. There is Geeta Phogat, who became the first Olympic women’s wrestler of India when she participated in the 2012 Olympics. There is discus thrower Krishna Poonia who went on to reach the final round of track and field events in the London Games.
Not just the Rio-bound athletes, even the Haryanvis who missed the bus by a whisker are rewarded after a good performance. Take the example of the recently-concluded World Championship winning boxer Sonia Lather.
Athletes have been offered jobs in the police department and in other respected jobs. This has encouraged more youths to take up sport as a career. They are not just the number one state in promoting sport but also in terms of identifying talents and policies.
Wrestling is again India’s biggest hope in the 2016 edition of the Olympics
One of the most important disciplines for India in this edition of the Summer Games is wrestling. And can you believe it, six out of the eight wrestlers are from Haryana. Among them, Vinesh Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt have a good chance of bringing home medals.
Sakshi Malik and Babita Kumari from the women's wrestling team can spring a surprise any day. Not to forget Haryana's son Ravinder Khatri, who became the second Indian in more than 10 years to qualify for the Greco-Roman wrestling category at the Rio Olympics 2016
While Punjab has been producing world-class shooters over the past few years, Haryana's contribution in producing wrestlers is exemplary. These two states have been India's medal factory in the last few editions of the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.
If every other state dominates one sport like Punjab does in shooting and Haryana does in wrestling, the country can be sure of at least one medal from every discipline in the future editions.
Let's hope rest of the country follows Haryana’s example and contributes towards India's rise in world sports.