Khelo India University Games
Change of faith brings gold for pugilist Sandeep Kaur
Sandeep flashed a prayer mala with a cross during her final match. Speaking after the match, she credited her gold medal to her change of religion – she converted from Sikhism to Christianity last year.
Bengaluru: The boxing finals witnessed some nail-biting bouts as the 10-day Khelo India University Games reached its halfway point on Thursday.
One particular bout between Sandeep Kaur of Chandigarh University, Mohali and Shivani of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Shekhawati University, Katrathal in the women's 54-kg final got particular attention. Sandeep went home with the gold after prevailing 4-1 at the end of the three rounds, but what caught the imagination of those watching was when she flashed a prayer mala with a cross.
In a post-bout interaction, Sandeep credited her gold to her change in faith – from Sikhism to Christrianity - last year.
"I lost my form after winning gold at the 13th International Silesian Boxing Championships in Poland in 2018 in 52kg category. I did everything including changing coaches but nothing worked. I'm a born fighter. My friend Lovy Sharma talked about Jesus and Christianity. Those meetings changed me … I hope forever," Sandeep told The Bridge.
Her parents – Sardar Jasvir Singh, who runs a friendly-neighbourhood kirana store, and mother Jasmeet Kaur were happy to see their eldest daughter smile after a long time.
"They are happy too and now there will be a big celebration in our village. I will miss it but this gold is more than anything else," said the pugilist.
Sandeep had been taunted by friends and other villagers when she first took to boxing. But when she made her international debut at the age of 16 and won gold at the Polish meet in 2018, those taunts seemed to have stopped.
"That gold silenced my critics. But they were back in action in double force when I lost form soon after the Poland tour. But my parents ignored them and I kept training. Nothing worked. It was then my friend, who is also from Mohali, took me to those prayer meetings. My decision was right and sports is a great leveller," Sandeep said.
Trained by her uncle Simrajit Singh, who runs an academy, Sunil Kumar, BA Fernandez of Punjab Institute of Sports and Karamvir Singh, Sandeep now hopes she will be selected in the national camp soon and can make her return to the Indian team.
Muskan on giant-killing run
Meanwhile, in the women's 60kg category final, Muskan Yadav of PTDUS continued her giant-killing show when she silenced Rekha of Indira Gandhi University, Rewari for gold. In the semifinals on Tuesday, she stunned reigning world youth champion Vinka.
This is the second gold for the daughter of farmer Satish Kumar Yadav and homemaker Poonam Yadav.
She had won gold in the 2018 Khelo India Youth Games too and is already an international medallist.
"I want to play for India more and uplift the lives of my parents and my brother who is into athletics. I follow Mary Kom and want to bring more laurels to our country," said Muskan after her unanimous 5-0 win.
"I'm a boxer who takes pride in winning the top prize. I don't want to settle for anything less," she said.