Friday, November 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



The Randhawas never retire
M. S. Unnikrishnan

New Delhi, November 1
Gurbachan Singh Randhawa does not look like a 63-year-old. He is a bundle of energy, and always raring to go. And he says with well-meaning good humour that “I have not yet declared my retirement".

But his forehead lines with creases when he talks about Punjab athletics. He is saddened at the decline and politicisation of sports in Punjab. Though he's a resident of Delhi, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa keeps himself posted with the happenings in Punjab athletics.

And he's disturbed to hear the news that about 200 athletes of Punjab have submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Amateur Athletic Association (PAAA) that they would not take part in the National Games if the present set of office-bearers continue.

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa had scorched the track of the Tokyo Stadium when he won the 110 metres hurdles gold, clocking 14.07 secs, in the 1964 Asian Games.

His Tokyo time stood the test of time for 37 long years before it was officially broken by young Punjab hurdler Gurpreet Singh at the National Open Meet at Lucknow a few weeks back.

Gurpreet's electronically clocked timing of 14.00 seconds, broke Randhawa's record, for record's sake, though it's not practically possible to convert Randhawa's hand-timed 14.07 into an electronically clocked 14 seconds.

But Randhawa prefers not to join issue with anyone, and wishes well for Gurpreet, who, he believes, has the potential of clocking a time of sub 14 secs.

Ranjeet Randhawa, a hurdler with considerable promise. — Tribune photo

Randhawa's own son, Ranjeet Randhawa, himself was a hurdler of high promise who had clocked 13.49 secs in an All-Comers Athletic Meet at Santa Barbara (California) on June 27, 1996. Since the timing was wind-assisted by more than the permissible limit, Gurbachan did not approach the Amateur Athletic Federation of India to ratify the record.

Ranjeet, effectively, was the first to break his father's record, but Randhawa was too modest to make a song and dance about it. Ranjeet left athletics when he was peaking, so to say, to pursue a Masters in computer science and international relations. And he's none the worse for that, as he's a successful businessman now.

Sports, they say, are in the genes. And in the case of the Randhawa family, the saying fits like a perfect 'T'.

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa's wife, Jaswinder Randhawa, was a promising discus thrower and shotputter, when she called it quits from athletics. Following in the footsteps of her two brothers–thrower Jaskaran Singh Sandhu and decathelete.

Balraj Singh Sandhu--Jaswinder also took to throwing like a duck to water. Interestingly, her father was a good swimmer and grandfather was a wrestler.

She represented the Kurukshetra University in the Inter-Varsity Athletic Meet at the Annamali University in 1965, and hauled the discus gold. She lifted a silver medal in the National Meet for Punjab, in Bangalore, in 1966.

She represented her University and the State for three years from 1964 to '66. Kamlesh Atwal of Delhi was the reigning queen of women's throw events. But Jaswinder carved a niche for herself under the care of coach 'Tiger' Joginder Singh, and quit the scene when she was still at her peak.

When she tied the knot with Gurbachan Singh Randhawa in 1969, Jaswinder carried forward her sporting tradition to another illustrious sporting family of Punjab.

For, Gurbachan's father Maj. Tehal Singh Randhawa was a renowned sportsman, and two of Randhawa's brothers were also very good sportsmen. H S Randhawa is a former national coach, while Joginder Singh is a volleyball player.

Gurbachan donates Rs 2,000 he receives every month as pension for his Arjuna Award for the sports training of three athletes and one hockey player in Punjab. He has also created a trust in the name of his father, to help promising sportspersons.

Both Gurbachan and Jaswinder opine that today's kids do not put in enough hours for training, though the facilities are far better now. On a personal note, Jaswinder agrees with a shy smile that being a sports couple “life is compatible and easy. And we can guide our children too in sports. It's a plus point".

But when their own son wanted to concentrate on his education, rather than on his hurdling, the Randhawas did not come on his way. For, in their scheme of things, education was as important as sports, to make it big in life.


Arjun Singh leads in Honda-Siel Golf
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, November 1
Arjun Singh, who was thinking of an alternative career less than a year back, shot a brilliant eight-under 64 to take sole possession of the lead after the first round in the Rs 30-lakh prize money Honda-Siel PGA Championship at the par-72 Delhi Golf Club course here today.

Arjun played a bogey-free round and opened a two-stroke lead over Mukesh Kumar, the current leader of the Order of Merit. Uttam Mundy and Shiv Prakash of Kanpur, with four-under 68, were tied at the third place.

Gaurav Ghei, Rohtas Singh, Amit Dube and Harmeet Kahlon were involved in a four-way tie for the fifth place.

Defending champion Jyoti Randhawa shot a one under 71 and was tied for the 7th place while Daniel Chopra of Sweden, winner of the inaugural event, was joint ninth at two-under 70.

Vivek Bhandari, the pre-tournament favourite, faded away with a two-over 74, and was in 36th place. Manav Jaini of Delhi and Simarjeet Singh of Indian Oil, posted super scores of four-under 68 to lead the amateurs.

Arjun Singh played hot golf as he made three birdies on the front nine and five on the back. He began with a birdie on the first two holes after nailing his approach shots to lessthan three feet.

OCA golf

As part of the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of St. Columba's School, the Old Columbans Association (OCA) is organising a golf tournament at the Classic Golf Course, Gurgaon, on November 3. Details can be had from Vivek Kakaria (Tel: 628 8070).


Pavel for Tata Open
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, November 1
Andrei Pavel of Romania, currently placed 24th in the ATP Champion's Race, would return to Chennai to participate in the Tata Open Tennis Championship to be played from December 31, 2001 to January 6, 2002.

The 27-year-old Pavel's crowning moment came this year when he became the first Romanian to win a Tennis Masters Series title, beating Patrick Rafter in Montreal.

“Pavel has come to Chennai twice before, and both times, he has played well,” said tournament director Sheila Maniam. In 1997, he beat Richard Krajicek who was the No 1seed, and Magnus Norman, before losing to eventual winner Tillstrom in the semi-finals. In 1998, he entered the quarter-final before losing to second seed Woodbridge. This year, he is ranked higher than ever before.

The US $400,000 Tata Open, owned and organised by IMG, is

India and South Asia's only ATP International Series event, and one of only seven in all of Asia.

The Tata Open will be held in Chennai for the sixth consecutive year under the aegis of the All-India Tennis Association and with the collaboration of the Tamilnadu Tennis Association.

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