New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India’s Northern Regional Centre in Sonepatorganised an online interaction earlier today with 391 participants on the Fit India Freedom Run. Star wrestlers and Khel Ratna winners in 2019 and 2020 respectively Bajrang Punia and VineshPhogat were among the speakers at the event that lasted for one and a half hours. The event was inaugurated by Lalita Sharma, Regional Director, SAI NRC Sonepat and saw the participation of athletes and coaches from SAI Sonepat and SAI centres across Haryana in Hisar, Bhiwani, Kurukshetra, Bawana and Rohtak. The event was also attended by representatives from the print and electronic media. Pushpendra Garg, High Performance Director, Sports Authority of India and a Khel Ratna Awardee, spoke on the benefits of fitness and the Fit India Freedom Run. Satish Sarhadi, CEO, SAI National Boxing Academy, Rohtak gave the closing remarks for the event.
Bajrang Punia spoke on the importance of fitness in helping build a successful nation, “If you look at any successful country, it has a high number of fit people. I would encourage you to tell your family members and people in your society to remain fit. If you can keep yourself fit, then you can keep yourself away from illness. As an athlete, if we remain fit, stay healthy and eat properly, we can aspire to achieve our goals including the ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal.”
VineshPhogat complimented the initiative of the Prime Minister and the Sports Minister, and moreover spoke of the responsibility sportspersons have towards society, “The Fit India Freedom Run is a very good initiative taken by the Sports Minister. As an athlete, I gain a lot by remaining fit but we will get encouraged if everyone around us remains fit too. During the coronavirus pandemic, those who were fitter were able to recover better from the disease. Our Prime Minister has done a lot for sports, the last 5-6 years have been very good for Indian sports and it is very important for us as sportspersons to set an example for society. I thank the PM and the Sports Minister for whatever they are doing for Indian sports.”
Amit Saroha, an Arjuna awardee and gold medalist at the 2014 Asian Para Games said that disability should not be an obstacle for staying fit, “I am wheelchair bound so I can’t run, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t be fit. You can sit and remain fit by doing yoga. If we remain fit, our country will grow.”
Akhil Kumar, Arjuna awardee boxer said, “If you have strong fitness, you can return from injury better. I would encourage all my fellow athletes to maintain their fitness, look after their health and eat properly.”
Women’s hockey player and Arjuna Awardee Deepika Thakur shared her perspective on fitness especially after motherhood, “I have a one-year old child, it is difficult but I do try to take one hour out in the morning before my baby wakes up to do my fitness exercises. If I can take time out after just having a baby, then others can too. It is important to maintain discipline in life.”
Other speakers at the event were mountaineer Anita Kundu who won the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award this year; Manpreet Singh, Kabaddi coach and a Dhyan Chand awardee this year; Om Prakash Dahiya, Wrestling coach who won the Dronacharya Award this year and Poonam Beniwal, High Performance Manager, Sports Authority of India.