Haryana athletes brought home about 22 out of the 66 medals won by India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG 2018) in Gold Coast. The Indian Army had laid the foundation for the state to become a sports nursery. Haryana is celebrating more than ever before ever since the Indian contingent returned from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games this April with an impressive tally of 66 medals, including 26 gold.
The credit of winning about 22 or every third medal that India won goes to the athletes from Haryana. Haryana won 19 of the 64 medals India collected in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 27 out of 101 in the 2010 edition in New Delhi. It has now become a habit for Haryana to create such records. This state has been dominant in various sports most precisely Wrestling, which has always been an integral part of rural Haryana. Some of the best wrestlers hail from Haryana including the Phogat sisters. All the early Olympians from the state had an army background. After retirement, many of them indulged into coaching young talents in their home state and helped inspire and shape generations of champions. Wrestlers Lila Ram and Devi Singh and long jumper Ram Mehar, all three from army backgrounds. They became part of the 59-member Indian contingent in the 1956 Olympics and became the pioneers from the state. In Gold Coast, nine wrestlers in the 12-member squad were from Haryana and each brought a medal piece home. In Gold Coast, six boxers in the eight-member squad were from the state and they won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Earlier it used to be wrestling, kabaddi and boxing, but presently the state is a dominant force in various disciplines, including shooting and athletics. Boxer Vijender Singh won a bronze in Beijing 2008, while wrestlers Yogeshwar Dutt and Sakshi Malik bagged a silver and a bronze from London 2012 and Rio Olympics 2016 respectively. Sakshi became the country’s first woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal. Not just army backgrounds but also the support and incentives from the State government has inspired a lot of young people to invest their time in sports. Hardwork and dedication gave the state its most iconic sporting hero, Kapil Dev, also known as the Haryana Hurricane.
By: Anuja Arora