Hockey bronze is worth gold, it fulfilled long cherished hope: Sandeep Singh

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By Mohammed Suaib & Avinash Prabhakar

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) The Haryana state government will host a function on August 13 to honour its athletes who have won medals and performed well during the recently concluded Olympic Games.

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“We will hold a function on August 13 for players from our state who went to Olympics where we will honour them with cash awards and posts,” state sports minister Sandeep Singh told IANS in an exclusive interview.

Haryana has already announced Rs 6 crore to gold medal winner Neeraj Chopra, Rs 4 crore to wrestler Ravi Dahiya and Rs 2.5 crore to each of the bronze medal-winning Haryana players in the men’s hockey team.

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Apart from that, the state is also giving Rs 50 lakh each to Haryana players of the women’s hockey team which finished fourth.

“We are giving money not just as per the stated policy but also out of policy. And we aren’t just rewarding the winners. We are rewarding participants we well, giving Rs 15 lakh to each of the Olympic participants from the state. We have already paid Rs 5 lakh for preparation. Haryana is the first state that has done this. Such efforts boost players,” added Sandeep who also acknowledged the athletes for having overcome testing times during the Covid-19 pandemic and done well.

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“For our athletes, to overcome Covid-19 and keep their preparations on during 2020 and 2021 and bring themselves to peak is a big thing,” he said.

The 35-year-old former Indian hockey player said that the state has been investing in sports for a long time and will continue to invest in it.

“Haryana is way ahead in every game. It is providing facilities for every game. The most important thing is that it ultimately benefits India,” he added.

“The medals that we have won is what is visible. What is invisible is the planning that Haryana has been doing for a long time. If we see the results, Haryana’s contribution to medals tally is huge. We have been investing regularly in the grassroots, nurseries, facilities, equipment, infra. Not just that, we have rehabilitation centre, mental coach, physical trainers and dieticians. We have invested on them and on hundreds of other coaches that we are bringing to the state. Sports will continue to develop in the state, so that we have fresh talent,” he said further.

Sandeep termed the India’s bronze medal win as good as gold and said that it has somewhat healed the agony of the 0-8 loss his side faced during the 2010 Commonwealth Games against Australia in New Delhi.

“We played the 2010 CWG at home. That disappointment has been erased. For me, this is a gold, not bronze because the hockey team has done what the entire country had been hoping for years.”

–IANS

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