Elusive for last two editions, gold comes to Punjab boys’ hockey team this time

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The last two editions of Khelo India Youth Games had seen the Punjab boys’ hockey team winning the silver and bronze medal with the gold medal remaining elusive. It took namesakes Arshdeep Singh and Arshdeep Singh Junior’s heroics coupled with Bharat Thakur’s brilliance to hand Punjab their first-ever gold in boys’ hockey as they scored a 3-1 win over Uttar Pradesh in the final played in Fourth Khelo India Youth Games at Panchkula.

“I had lost my father nine months ago and I will dedicate this gold medal to my father. When I started playing hockey at Bathinda, my father used to take me to the hockey ground every day. Later when I shifted to PIS Academy in Mohali, he would often send me hockey equipment. I was part of the Punjab team, which won the sub-junior nationals in Chhattisgarh in 2019 and scored 16 goals. To score six goals here and to help Punjab win the title is a special feeling,” Arshdeep Junior said.

While Arshdeep Singh Junior scored six goals in the tournament, Arshdeep Singh scored four goals in the tournament. Singh, whose father owns a two-acre farm at Leharka village near Amritsar, had started playing hockey at his village and was part of the silver and bronze medal- winning Punjab teams in Khelo India Youth Games earlier. “My family were seeing the final on social media and the whole village was following the final. Our coach Yudhwinder Singh told us not to think about the past and aim for giving our best in the final. The conditions were very hot during the final but we are glad that we could win the title,” said the player.

Another Bathinda player, Bharat Thakur, whose father repairs water pumps, scored two goals in the final and a total of five goals in the tournament. The 18-year-old player trains at PIS, Mohali. “My father could not watch the final as he was out in the villages repairing water pumps in summer time. When I will be going to my village, he will be showing this gold medal to all his friends and relatives and that’s what keeps me motivated,” Thakur said.

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Haryana wins 3 gold, no. 1 on medal tally

Panchkula: Hosts Haryana won three gold medals on Friday — one in girls’ hockey, one in judo and one in swimming — to maintain their top spot in the medal tally with 36 gold medals as compared to Maharashtra’s 34 gold medals in the Fourth Khelo India Youth Games being played at Panchkula on Friday.

Anil claimed the gold medal in the boys’ 55kg category in judo for Haryana while swimmer Harsh Saroha won the gold medal in boys’ 100m butterfly swimming event at Ambala. With this, Haryana’s total medal tally is 36 gold, 28 silver and 36 bronze medals. Maharashtra won two gold medals on Friday with their malakhamb team winning the gold medal while judoka Mithila Bhosale won the gold in girls’ 40kg event.

Chandigarh judoka Himanshu, who trains under coach Vivek Thakur, won the silver medal in the boys’ 55kg event.

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