Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 25
Of the 19 players of the hockey contingent representing India in the Tokyo Olympics, 11 are from Punjab. Of the 11, four are from Jalandhar, of which three are from Mithapur village alone.
When Manpreet Singh (29), Captain of the Indian hockey team, led the Olympic contingent with boxing legend Mary Kom during the opening ceremony on July 23, it was a record-breaking moment.
Clad in the Indian team blazer, Manpreet is the second hockey team captain and second flag-bearer of the Indian contingent from Mithapur village. Olympian Pargat Singh, MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, was the first. There is jubilation and cheer in the village which has a history of hockey greats and is currently one of the most productive nurseries of hockey players in the state.
Along with Manpreet Singh, players Mandeep Singh and Varun Kumar also hail from the village. Another hockey team member, Hardik Singh, is from nearby Khusropur village.
While Mithapur has had a huge section of population serving in the armed forces, it is most popular for its illustrious list of hockey greats.
Village’s Swarup Singh was a member of the 1952 Helsinki Olympic gold-winning hockey team; Kulwant Singh was a member of the bronze-winning hockey team in 1972 and Pargat Singh was part of the hockey teams in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
The 70 students who train at the hockey academy at the village seek inspiration from these illustrious Olympians.
Balwinder Singh, a coach at the academy, said, “It is a proud moment for us. Generations of hockey players have sought inspiration from the village. Every house here has a player. But this moment is unparalleled. Manpreet trained here and at the Surjit Hockey Academy. The village’s Shaheed Darshan Singh Kaypee Stadium is filled with his memories. Till a couple of years ago, we had four players from Mithapur in the Indian team. The fourth was Talwinder Singh.”
“The huge representation from Punjab after so many years is heartening. The future of the Mithapur academy is bright. We hope to see many more players from the village in the Indian team,” Olympian Pargat Singh said.
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