Olympic bronze medal-winning national men’s hockey team players and 10 other sportspersons from Punjab were on Thursday felicitated by the state government for their performances in the Tokyo Olympics. A total of Rs 28.36 crore was handed to them and jobs were promised to the medallists as per their qualification.
On the occasion, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced the promotion of Indian hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh to the rank of Superintendent of Police from his present DSP rank.
However, Olympic gold-winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who was to be presented with a cash award of Rs 2.51 crore by the Punjab government, could not attend the event in view of some engagements, the chief minister informed the gathering.
Ten Indian men hockey team players -- Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Mandeep Singh, Shamsher Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Hardik Singh, Simranjit Singh, Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh -- were given cheques of Rs 2.5 crore each.
Members of the fourth-place finishing Indian women's hockey team hailing from Punjab -- Reena Khokhar and Gurjit Kaur -- and discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, who took sixth position -- were given Rs 50 lakh each. Men's hockey team player Krishan Pathak was also given Rs 50 lakh.
Other participants at the Tokyo Games -- boxer Simranjit Kaur, shooters Anjum Moudgil and Angadveer Singh, shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor, race walker Gurpreet Singh and Paralympic badminton player (who will shortly participate in the paralympics) Palak Kohli got Rs 21 lakh each.
All the cash rewards were directly transferred online to the personal accounts of the players.
Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, who is also Administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh, Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, ace golfer and late Milkha Singh’s son Jeev, hockey legend late Balbir Singh Senior’s family and families of the players were also present.
Manpreet thanked the Punjab government and the chief minister for taking all possible steps to encourage sports. As a token of respect and gratitude, the women hockey players presented a hockey stick to the chief minister with signatures of the entire team members.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said traditionally Punjab has been a land of sports and has produced several legends in different sports.
"We will create better sports infrastructure and involve players in that and seek their suggestions,” he said.
He said the state government would soon work out modalities for providing jobs to the medallists and asked the chief secretary to examine the matter on top priority before taking a final decision.
The CM also said schools and approach roads leading to the native villages of the players will be named after them. He asked the PWD and School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla to identify such schools and roads so as to give due honour to the players who made everyone proud.
He said he wished sporting legends like Balbir Singh Sr and Milkha Singh were alive today as they would have been very happy at the achievement of the players.
Pointing to discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, the CM said in a lighter vein that his sports minister told him that she was fond of good food. "I will invite you and your family and treat you good food," the chief minister said, adding that he will invite all the players who were present and will himself cook food for them.
Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi announced that the state government will set up a women hockey academy in Jalandhar. Punjab Governor Badnore said, "Our sportspersons have exhibited spectacular and outstanding performances at the Tokyo Olympics. Punjab and Punjabis have once again proved that they can outshine anyone anywhere and specially in sports.”
The Governor made an offer to the willing players to join Chandigarh Police.