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Don't come empty-handed: Family's promise fuelled Manjit Singh's drive for Asiad gold

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NICOLAI NAYAK
Published Oct 4, 2018, 7:19 pm IST
Updated Oct 4, 2018, 7:20 pm IST
A late flourish during the Asian Games 2018 men’s 800m metre final would see Manjit Singh snatch gold from Jinson Johnson.
Recording a personal best timing of 1:46:15 seconds, Manjit became the first Indian since Charles Borromeo in 1982 to win the 800m event.  (Photo: PTI)
 Recording a personal best timing of 1:46:15 seconds, Manjit became the first Indian since Charles Borromeo in 1982 to win the 800m event. (Photo: PTI)

Mumbai: There are times when you have to lose something to gain something better. That was one motto Manjit Singh firmly believed during his preparations for the Asian Games 2018.

Even if that meant delaying the excitement of meeting his newborn child for the first time. When he made up his mind, the message was clear from his family: “If you are staying there, get a medal but don’t return empty-handed.”

 

He did not disappoint. A late flourish during the men’s 800m metre final would see Manjit Singh snatch gold from Jinson Johnson – his own compatriot and one of the firm favourites for the race.

Manjit trailed for most of the race and just moments before the final stretch, he ran his heart out, outfoxing his peers to script his name into the history books.

“I had it in my mind to meet my family and see my newborn son. But as I was training for the past two years my target was only the Asian Games. And overcoming distractions was the key thing for me at that time. So I controlled my emotions and decided not to go. Even if I had gone home for a week, my training and preparations would set me back by a month. I think I made a good decision,” the Haryana middle-distance runner said during the Fit India Movement by Glanbia.

 

Recording a personal best timing of 1:46:15 seconds, Manjit became the first Indian since Charles Borromeo in 1982 to win the 800m event. A maiden international medal also saw him join the elite company of legendary runners such as Sriram Singh, Bogeswar Baruah and Ranjit Singh who have conquered the category in the past.  

“Every athlete has their own strengths. My target was that if the race goes really slow at the start then I will take the lead. And if the race goes normally, I will just follow others. I also prepared well before the race. I trained in Bhutan on a high altitude so that was quite an advantage and I stuck to my own plans,” Manjit explained his strategy.

 

Manjit, the son of a milk vendor, hailing from Haryana’s Jind district went through trials and tribulations to fund his training on a shoe-string budget after losing his contract with ONGC during March 2016. With sights set on qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the 29-year-old is still struggling to make ends meet.

'I am currently unemployed and had put some of my own money into training for the Asian Games. I applied for the TOP scheme and the Haryana government has said that they're working on it but I haven't received any update from them. Even on a usual job, you can’t make enough money to train abroad. I am without a sponsor for now. Since there are so many athletes competing out of Haryana, it's tough to get a job.

 

"I would prefer the problem to be solved as soon as possible, so I can clearly focus on my preparations for the upcoming competitions. My next target is the Asian Athletics Championships and the World Athletics Championships in 2019. A medal there will help me qualify for the Tokyo Olympics," he concluded.

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