Sans state-of-the-art facilities, Gurdaspur producing international-level players

A judo centre here is preparing top-drawer judokas who have even participated in Olympics

Tribune News Service

Ravi Dhaliwal

Gurdaspur, May 26

When a single facility in a small place like Gurdaspur produces an Olympian, a near Olympian and 50-odd international judokas, the myth that only big cities having state-of-the-art training facilities can produce international sportsmen is comprehensively shattered.

The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Singh Judo Centre has become a conveyor belt of sorts for the Punjab Police, BSF, CISF, ITBP and CRPF to recruit top-drawer judokas.

The latest news from the centre is that Jobandeep Singh, Jasleen and Avtar have been included in the squad that will represent the country in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games this coming July.

The Olympian here is Avtar Singh, who donned the Indian blazer in the 2016 Rio Olympiad. The near Olympian is Jasleen Saini, whose hopes of making it to Tokyo, hinged on India’s participation in the Asia-Oceania championship in Kyrgyzstan in April last year. Two members of the Indian contingent tested positive for Covid-19, following which the entire team was withdrawn hours before the tournament commenced. Consequently, Saini’s Tokyo dream vanished into oblivion.

Winning medals or participating in the World Championships, Asian Games and championships, Commonwealth Games and championships, World Police Games and World University Games is common. The centre runs more on luck and pluck and less on funds. Most ex-players are officers and seldom do they think twice about doling out funds to their judo brethren.

Interestingly, Amarjit Shastri, the coach who has mentored scores of international judokas, does not hold a diploma in sports coaching from NIS Patiala, which is mandatory for getting a job of a coach in India. Still, he manages to produce international judokas.

He is a hard task master whose motto is — “If you think you are good enough, you have started your decline.” He says he trains his boys only on days ending with a Y. “There are two types of sportsmen in my hall. Those who find excuses and those who find a way. I identify the former and weed them out,” says Shastri.

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