Prayers for Indo-Canadian weightlifter to win Olympic gold

August 5th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party
By Gurmukh Singh
Punjabi Dhaba (Dixon, California), Aug 5 (IANS) American supporters of Indo-Canadian weightlifter Jasvir Singh, who is representing Canada in the sport, have raised $21,000 for him and vowed to organise 11 ‘akhand paths’ (non-stop recitation of the Sikh scripture Granth Sahib) if he comes back with a gold medal. Thirty-one-year old Singh, who was the Canadian gold medal winner in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 in his category, becomes the first Indo-Canadian to represent Canada in the Olympics when he takes the podium next Monday.

Apart from him, there are six players of Indian origin in the Canadian hockey team going to the Olympics.

Before he left for Beijing, Singh was feted at a function at the famous Punjabi Dhaba at Dixon near Sacramento last week.

“We invited Jasvir Singh here to wish him good luck and present him the cheque for $21,000. If he wins the gold medal, we will raise tons of money for him and hold akhand paths for him,” organiser Jessie Banga of Jeeway Punjab Entertainment told IANS.

“We have already begun prayers for his success,” he added.

Thanking the gathering of 200-odd well-wishers, Jasvir Singh said he would leave no stone unturned to win glory for Canada and the Indo-Canadians.

Former Indian MP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Harbhajan Lakha, who brought the weightlifter to Canada in 2002 and helped him get Canadian citizenship, said: “It is a proud moment for us that an Indian is representing Canada in a non-hockey event for the first time. We will stay awake when he tries his luck in Beijing Aug 11”.

Lakha said the weightlifter belongs to a poor Scheduled Caste family of Karnana village near Jalandhar.

“Jasvir Singh was an all-India university champion in his category and represented India at the Commonwealth Games. But he was stuck as an ASI (assistant sub inspector) in Punjab Police. That’s when I thought of bringing him to Canada in 2002.”

Since he could not get his Canadian citizenship quickly enough, Jasvir Singh could not represent Canada in the 2004 Olympics.

However, the three-time Canadian champion will now be one of the five Canadian weightlifters vying for honours in the Beijing Olympics.

“In fact, he is the first Canadian from his adopted province of British Columbia to be on the Canadian weightlifting team in the Olympics in the past 20 years. We are waiting with bated breath for him bring glory to Canada and Indians,” said Lakha, who spends part of his time each year with his family in British Columbia.

Situated bang on the San Francisco-bound highway near the California capital of Sacramento, Punjabi Dhaba is quite a hit with highway travellers.

With a background of open fields, it resembles a typical dhaba on India’s Grand Trunk Road.

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