Asian Games gold medallist Manjit Singh, who doesn’t have a regular job, on Tuesday requested the sports ministry to include him in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme to prepare for the upcoming big events like the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Manjit, who won a gold in the men’s 800m race in the Asian Games, was left without a job in March 2016 after the ONGC refused to extend his contract as he was not producing results.
Despite the odds, he continued training under army coach Amrish Kumar before getting a National Camp call-up.
“I lost my job in March 2016 as the ONGC refused to renew my contract. They said I was not producing results. I was getting stipends earlier,” he said.
“But now I have won a gold in Asian Games. I hope the sports ministry will take notice of my achievement and the hardships I am facing. I don’t have any sponsor or any company giving me assistance. I am hoping that the Sports Ministry will include me in the TOP Scheme so that I can continue training,” Manjit told PTI during an interaction.
The international season is over now and Manjit said next year will be crucial for him as the Asian Championships and World Championships are lined up.
“I want to do well in both the Asian Championships and World Championships next year. After that is the 2020 Olympics but for that I need financial assistance for training. I hope the sports ministry will help me out,” he added.
The 29-year-old Manjit, a native of village Ujhana in Jind district of Haryana, said he was on the verge of quitting the sport when the ONGC refused to renew his contract two years back.
“I was feeling very low and I did not know what to do. I am from a farmer’s family and my family cannot afford to send big amount of money for my training. But somehow I continued with help from my coach Amrish Kumar,” he said.
“I briefly thought I would quit athletics but my father (a former state level shot putter) said I should continue and so I continued with the meagre income from my family.”
Manjit earned a spot in the Indian athletics team for the 2010 Commonwealth Games but failed to qualify for the final round. He finished fourth in the Asian Championships in Pune in 2013 and won a silver medal in the Federation Cup in 2014.
His first and last gold medal until the recent win came in 2013 and he admitted that he mostly finished second in Nationals. He was not selected for the CWG and Asian Games in 2014.
In 2015, Manjit moved to Bareilly and trained under Amrish Kumar, a former Army man who trained athletes at Jat Regiment Centre.
He approached the trainer after 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist Naveen Kumar told him about the training. Manjit then won a silver in the Federation Cup in 2015.
“It has been more than 10 years I began my career and I have faced a lot of disappointments in my career. But I did not lose hope and I knew I can do something big,” said Manjit who began competing in the national circuit in 2008.
Asked about the 800m final he ran in Jakarta, he said, “My tactics was to run along with the leading pack and then take a chance in the final stretch. I was determined to do something.
“Thank God, it was according to the script I had worked out. I had enough energy to make the final kick and overtake those who were ahead of me.”