A small village in Rajasthan celebrates their first Commonwealth athlete despite close podium miss
Battling a shoulder tear and a few past disappointments, Ajay Singh has come a long way on his journey to become a champion weightlifter.
There are dreams you see and achieve, and then there are dreams that are seen way before they turn into reality. An Army man running cross-country couldn't fulfill his dream of reaching the highest level 30 years back.
But Retired Subedar Major Dharampal Singh is a proud father today despite Ajay Singh missing the podium by a whisker in 81 Kg weightlifting, where he lifted a total of 319 Kg to finish fourth.
"We are proud of Ajay despite his result. Knowing him, this was not even close to his personal best but he tried as hard as he could. I am happy about his effort", said his father.
A small village in Rajasthan, Khudot, which comes under the Jhujhunu district, is now celebrating its first Commonwealth Athlete despite his fourth-place finish. The village of roughly 265 houses is happy with the effort the youngster put in.
"Accha khela humara ladka, lekin thoda sa chuk gaya", (Our boy played well but missed it by a whisker), a villager told this reporter.
Ajay who has a personal best of 338 Kg lift looked shaky from the very first lift and never looked at his best. The gold medal would have been an easy target had he been close to his personal best. An injury stopped him from reaching the podium but he fought on till the end to claim the 4th spot.
Born in a family of Army personnel, Ajay always had the gift of hard work and discipline. Giving up was never an option.
"Ajay played every sport when he was a kid. From sprinting to weightlifting to wrestling to Kabaddi, he excelled in all of them at that level", remembers his father, Dharampal Singh.
"I always wanted my kids to embrace sports in life for the learnings it has on offer. Ajay took to sports as a duck takes to water and started shining as soon as he got chances".
Ajay started making his mark at multiple junior international events, with medals at Commonwealth and Asian Championships. In the 2018 Asian Games, a young Ajay finished 5th and was disappointed.
Talking about disappointments and failures, his father says, "We never forced him to excel. He is a natural champion and he will definitely excel, all he needs to do is give his 100 percent and never back down".
COVID brought another disappointment for Ajay when he suffered a tear in his shoulder lateral muscle and bicep during the ongoing pandemic. With the help of the Go Sports Foundation, Ajay got himself treated and went into rehab all by himself.
"He never stopped believing and kept working hard which meant pushing for his limits every single time. He has a strong mentality and is a fighter." Dharampal Singh credits the Weightlifting coaches and federation for constantly taking care of the lifters, conducting things smoothly and providing the athletes with the best facilities and opportunities.
It didn't take him long to come back and win gold at the 2020-21 National Championships.
In featuring at the CWG 2022, Ajay took the biggest step of his international career yet.
"My family has given 16 army men to the country but for the first time, we have an international athlete of this level. I can't be more proud and happy. Ajay has worked hard for it and he will make us more proud, Hopefully", concluded a happy and emotional father.