'Aloo ka parathas', Olympic logo await 'Men in Blue' in Punjab
In the 18-member squad, the players from Punjab are vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Shamsher Singh and Simranjeet Singh
BY VISHAL GULATI
Jalandhar: After the glorious victory of the 'Men in Blue' in Tokyo Olympics, Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh's mother is eagerly awaiting his son's arrival to celebrate his Chak De India moment with 'aloo ka parathas'.
For Hardik Singh, who scored his second goal to reduce Germany's lead to 3-2, his car will bear an Olympic symbol.
"My son is very fond of 'aloo ka parathas' and 'aloo ki sabzi' made by me," an emotional Manjit Kaur told IANS.
She said his son really worked hard to reach the Olympics podium from this small village.
"I just spoke to him ahead of the match and wished him good luck," she said.
"Of course, I told them several times that they should not take the German team lightly," Kaur added.
Manpreet, who also played in 2012 and 2016 Olympics, was delighted to see his brother and two pet dogs, while pointing towards them -- Sam and Rio.
"Though I am in constant touch with him over video calls, I am awaiting to hug him with the medal in the neck," she said, adding, 'His son likes to drink a lot of milk".
With 10 of its players in the men's hockey team that defeated Germany 5-4 to win the bronze medal and finishing on the podium after 41 years, Punjab saw celebrations on Thursday morning bursting crackers and beating 'dhols' with 'bhangra' in full swing.
Manpreet's native village Mithapur, just six km from here, has two more players in the Olympics squad. They are Mandeep Singh and Varun Kumar, who scored India's opening goal against Argentina.
After defeating Germany, Kumar called his family through a video call and expressed gratitude for supporting the team by offering prayers.
Mithapur has produced six Olympians -- Swarup Singh (1952 Helsinki Olympics), Kulwant Singh (1972 Olympics), Pargat Singh (1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics) and three current players.
Its nearby Khusropur village has 22-year-old midfielder Hardik Singh in the squad.
Responding to India's victory over Germany, Mandeep's father Ravinder Singh said, "India has won medal after many years. I am speechless over what India achieved today."
After the tremendous win, the car of Hardik Singh will now bear an Olympics logo.
"When he got selected for the Olympics, his younger brother asked him if he could get an Olympic logo affixed on the car. At that time he replied he will let him know at an appropriate time. Now the time has come to fix a logo on it," remarked Hardik's mother Kanwaljeet Kaur, who has purchased a gold ring in the shape of Olympic rings to gift his son.
Belonging to a family of hockey players, Hardik's father Varinderpreet Singh is a Superintendent of Police with Punjab Police and his grandfather Pritam Singh was the former coach.
Pritam's younger brother Gurmail Singh was part of the Indian hockey team that won the 1980 Moscow Olympics gold, the last medal to come home.
Describing the hockey bronze worth its weight in gold, an elated Chief Minister Amarinder Singh congratulated the team by tweeting: "A tremendous achievement to be finishing on the podium after 41 years. The hockey bronze is worth its weight in gold."
In the 18-member squad, the players from Punjab are vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Shamsher Singh and Simranjeet Singh.
State Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi announced an award of Rs 1 crore for each of the 10 players from the state.
"On this historic day, I'm delighted to announce the cash award of Rs 1 crore each. We await your return to celebrate the much deserving medal in the Olympics."
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])