Rising from humble roots, Punjab swimmers make waves
Sukhdeep Singh, son of a daily earner, always loved to swim. After helping his father, on his way back home, he would jump into the nearby canal and swim for hours at Jai Singh Wala village in Bagha Purana near Moga.
He had no means to learn swimming or pursue it full-time. However, his physical education teacher saw him swimming in the canal once and motivated him to appear for trials at Sports School here where he was selected.
Sukhdeep Singh, now 21, has won three medals at national-level championships.
Sharing his story, Sukhdeep said his family lives in a kutcha house at Bagha Purana. “My father is a labourer and just to help him earn more for the family, I used to work with him after school hours. Now I have joined the sport full-time and I am thankful to the Almighty,” he said.
Parampal Singh and Gursewak Singh from Ram Singh Wala village in Tarn Taran district too shared similar tales. Their fathers are marginal farmers. They also used to swim in the river near their village. Parampal was selected for the Asian Games camp last year while Gursewak had taken part in a national championship.
The trio are among 10 other swimmers who belong to economically weaker sections and have now made it to the nationals.
Parampal and Sukhdeep have gone to Bhopal to participate in the Senior National Championship starting on Friday. They will be participating in the water polo event.
Parampal said until 2012, he did not know what he would do with his life. “Our field is near the river, whenever the water level rises, our crops get destroyed. Such is the situation which my family and I have always faced,” he said.
“We did not have any money to even think of participating in any sport. While I would swim in the river, my physical education teacher would always motivate me. He made me meet swimming coach Umesh Sharma at Sports School,” he said.
Umesh said he had sensed that these players were going to do well. “I noticed that those who live in such conditions are tougher and more competent. I feel proud at their growth,” he said.