Dhanraj & Co bring Asia Cup to Jugraj

There were emotional scenes in Delhi’s Batra hospital when the Indian hockey team brought the Asia Cup to injured penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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New Delhi:

There were emotional scenes in Delhi’s Batra hospital when the victorious Indian hockey team led by Dhanraj Pillai brought the Asia Cup to injured penalty corner specialist Jugraj Singh. It was a promise fulfilled and an overwhelmed Jugraj could not hold back his tears. "It’s a great feeling because we had promised him that we would win the Asia Cup for him and we did just that. So I am very happy about it," said hockey forward Gagan Ajit Singh, who is also a close friend of Jugraj. The team arrived in Chennai from Kuala Lumpur on Monday to a hero's welcome. Winning the Asia Cup was Indian hockey's biggest triumph in the international arena since the 1998 Asian Games gold medal. To top it off, India got to beat archrivals Pakistan 4-2 to clinch the title. And to add the icing to the cake, Sandeep Michael won the Most Promising Youngster award. Good progress Today the doctor attending on Jugraj Singh had some positive news about his recovery. "Since he came here, we have been able to make him sit on the bed," said Dr Laljie Kent of the Batra Hospital where Jugraj was shifted on Sunday from Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana. Jugraj was initially admitted to the Ludhiana hospital where he was operated upon after sustaining multiple fractures in a car crash last month. Plans are afoot to take him to a hospital in the US or Australia, once he begins to walk with crutches, for faster rehabilitation. That, however, was at least "six-seven weeks" away, said Kent. Kent's comments on the player's recovery process might differ from what KPS Gill, president of the Indian Hockey Federation, had to say on Jugraj. "He (Jugraj) has to play in the Olympics (next August in Athens), he has got the will power to do that. In my opinion, he should be back on the field in two-three months," Gill said when the Indian team, returning from Asia Cup triumph in Kuala Lumpur, met the injured player today. Asked when Jugraj would be able to return to competitive play, Kent said "we cannot fix a date at this time, but we are very optimistic about a quick recovery." President hails victory President APJ Abdul Kalam has hailed India's victory and said it was the result of "planning, determination and the capacity to dream" of the team members. In a message to the hockey team, Dr Kalam said, "I am sure that this triumph will further boost the morale of our team as they prepare for the World Cup in 2006." Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Vikram Verma said the historic win was a proud moment for the whole country. Challenges ahead But this is just the beginning of the long hard road to qualifying for the Athens Olympics next year. "Though we have qualified for the World Cup, we still need to qualify for the Olympics for which we have to compete with some very formidable teams. From this match we have to understand our strong and weak points and aim for the Olympic gold," said former Olympian Ashok Kumar. Former Indian hockey team captain Zafar Iqbal said the victory will greatly revive the flagging popular interest in the game. (With PTI inputs)