India hockey captain lost his dadaji just before Asiad, but was not told to avoid any distraction
New Delhi: When Sardar Singh was leading the Indian contingent at the Incheon Asian Games opening ceremony as flag bearer, the hockey skipper had no idea that everyone of his family members in Punjab were watching him on TV except for one man — his grandfather.
Sardar Singh with his fiancee English hockey player Ashpal Bhogal. Pic/Getty Images
Four days before the opening ceremony on September 19, Sardar’s grandfather passed away, but his family did not let the sad news reach him.
“They did not want me to get distracted. I was very close to my dadaji (grandfather) since my childhood. I even called my family from Incheon, telling them I will be the flag bearer, watch me on TV but they did not divulge it to me,” Sardar told PTI on the sidelines of a felicitation function for the Asian Games medal winners by the government.
“It was only after the Games were over that I got to know about it. My dadaji had always encouraged me to play hockey with passion and he was keen to see us doing well,” he said.
And the Indian team sure did well in Incheon, beating arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in the shootoff to win gold at the Asiad after a gap of 16 years.
Talking about the historic Asiad gold medal, the soft-spoken Sardar said: “For about 7-8 months, the players gave their sweat and blood in training camps with (coach) Terry Walsh” said Sardar adding that the team will now focus on the Champions Trophy (Dec 6-14) in Bhubaneshwar.