M A I N   N E W S

Punjab no more a powerhouse in sports
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 10
Punjab is not just faltering on the economic front. Its decline in sports is also evident. In the recently concluded National Games in Jharkhand, Punjab slipped to the 10th place in the gold medal tally.

In sharp contrast, Manipur, a small state, won 48 gold medals. Haryana, which won 42 gold medals, also did much better and was placed 3rd behind Services, which stood first, and Manipur in the gold medal tally.

Other states, which did better than Punjab, were Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. Jharkhand, which was at the 15th spot last time, jumped to the 5th spot this time.

Some of the coaches, who were at Ranchi during the games, say that Jharkhand has developed excellent sports related infrastructure and it would further improve its position in the coming years.

The free flow of drugs and liquor in the state seem to have affected the youth in Punjab the most.

Four years ago, at the Guwahati National Games, Punjab was placed at the 7th spot. But not too long ago, in 2001 to be precise, Punjab was at the top of the gold medal tally. It had then even beaten the all powerful Services to the second spot.

In the National Games held in Manipur in 1999, Punjab figured among the first three states. That year, Kerala topped the gold medal tally with 52 medals, Manipur was at the second place with

49 medals and the third spot was occupied by Punjab with 34 gold medals. In 2001, Punjab climbed to the top of the ladder with 61 gold medals relegating Serivces, which won 45 medals, to the second place and Manipur, which won 30 gold medals to the third position.

Kabaddi at the moment is the most patronised by the Punjab Government. However at Ranchi National Games this time, Punjab had to be satisfied with the third spot in Kabaddi. It also failed to win any gold medal in boxing.

Not very long ago, however, the Sunam-Sangrur belt used to produce boxers who were feared and respected the most at the national level and even at international meets.

Punjab also drew a blank this time in Fencing, Gymnastics, Rowing, Wushu, Taekwondo and Swimming as far as winning the gold medal was concerned.

Of the 23 gold medals won by Punjab this time, one came in Archery, 5 in Athletics, 1 in Basketball, 5 in Cycling, one in Hockey, 3 in Judo, 1 in Karate, 5 in Shooting and 1 in Wrestling.

There were 444 gold medals at stake at the National Games and Punjab won

about 5 per cent of the total. The total number of medals awarded was 1479 and Punjab bagged 115 of them, which included 23 gold medals,38 silver medals and 54 bronze medals.

In the recently concluded Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games, only three districts-Jalandhar,Patiala and Ludhiana—won more than 10 gold medals each. The performance of the remaining 17 districts was average or below par. There were few tough contests, which means not much is happening on the sports front in large parts of the state. The sports activity is by and large confined to only a few districts.

Barnala and Moga, for example, did not win even a single gold medal. Mansa, Bathinda and Ferozepur won one gold medal each. Fatehgarh, Ropar, Kapurthala won 2 gold medals each and Sangrur, Muktsar, Hoshiarpur won 3 gold medals each. Nawanshar won 4 gold medals, Amritsar and Mohali 5 each, Faridkot 6 and Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur won 8 gold medals each. 





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