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Sports enthusiasts from all corners of the globe might instantly connect the name 'Harbhajan Singh' with the world of cricket. However, in the vibrant city of Melbourne, Australia, another Harbhajan Singh has been creating waves, and it won't be long before he becomes a widely recognized figure in the world of sports. 

About Harbhan Singh Aulakh 

Harbhajan Singh Aulakh, is a 77-year-old athlete hailing from Melbourne. He's currently in the midst of competing at the World Masters Games held in Sydney, and he's turning heads with his remarkable sporting achievements.

During this tournament, he participated in an impressive total of seven events. To the astonishment of many, Harbhajan Singh Aulakh has already clinched three gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. And the excitement doesn't stop here! With six more events on the horizon, the final medal tally remains a thrilling unknown.

Sports prowess 

This isn't the first time Harbhajan Singh has showcased his sporting prowess. Back in February-March 2009, he triumphed by securing six gold medals at the 12th Australian Masters Games, held in the picturesque city of Geelong in Victoria. Since then, his sights have been firmly set on the prestigious World Masters Games in Sydney, where he continues to demonstrate his incredible athletic talent.

During his time at the Australian Masters, he had an impressive schedule of 11 events lined up. However, a sudden muscle pull sadly forced him to withdraw from the competition after just six events. Looking back on this setback, he lamented, "I had to forfeit my pet events because of the muscle pull, otherwise I would have won many more gold medals at the Australian Masters. But as a result of that, I've practised and trained really hard during the last few months. I know exactly what my competition is and I know how to beat them. So I'm taking part in 13 events at the World Masters in Sydney"

Surprisingly, his track record at the Australian Masters was nothing short of remarkable, as he clinched a gold medal in every event he participated in. His winning streak continued in Sydney, where he managed to secure a medal in each event so far.

In Sydney, he's showcasing his incredible skills across a diverse range of events, including the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 5000m Walk, 100m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles, Steeple Chase, Long Jump, Triple Jump, and High Jump.

Sports journey in Australia 

Harbhajan Singh, who migrated to Australia a little over two years ago and proudly showcased the Australian flag at the World Masters tournament, expressed his commitment, saying, "I've spent my life bringing joy to Punjabis and Indians; now, I aim to bring happiness to Australians by earning medals for them."

Simple and modest ,Sardar Harbhajan Singh, calls himself as an "uneducated village dweller," personifying  a remarkable spirit and unwavering determination that can be seen as representative of both his Punjabi roots and the quintessential Australian ethos.

"Nobody has ever paid or sponsored me to compete at any event, whether nationally or internationally. I've done it all at my own expense, because I love competing and I don't want to rely on any one's generosity," he says.

Achievements 

Before the Sydney tournament, he had quite the impressive collection of medals. A total of 68 medals adorned his shelf, with a whopping 43 of them gleaming in gold. These accolades were the fruits of his labour in both national and international events, including the Asian Games and previous World Masters Games.

In his prime, he was a notable figure in the world of hockey, showcasing his skills on the field. Simultaneously, he shared his knowledge as a schoolteacher. His journey into veterans' events commenced back in 1981, and he never looked back. Over the years, he managed to secure medals in various corners of the world, from Malaysia and the United Kingdom to Australia and many other countries, apart from his homeland, India. Remarkably, he funded these trips out of his own pocket.

Born on June 16, 1932, in the district of Gurdaspur in Punjab, his love for sports began in his early childhood. He fondly recollects the days when, as a young athlete, victors in Punjab's sporting events didn't receive medals. Instead, they were rewarded with copper or brass utensils, like pots and pans.

With a hearty laugh, he shared a charming anecdote from his youth. Winning competitions not only brought him glory but also shiny new pots and pans for his mother. Incentivized by her enthusiasm, she would prepare a special treat – "sweet water," a delightful concoction of jaggery mixed in water – to motivate him to win more competitions. Her goal was to have the most enviable kitchen in all of Punjab, a goal that became a source of inspiration for him throughout his sporting journey.

"I collected many utensils in my younger days, thanks to that ‘sweet water'", laughed Harbhajan Singh.

He credits his success to two exceptional women - his mother and his wife. With gratitude to the Divine for his remarkable achievements, he takes immense pride in his son residing in Melbourne. His son's unwavering financial support empowers him to compete worldwide.

Reflecting on his journey, he once stated, "It's not easy to continue doing this, both personally and financially. But I know that if I want to continue, my son wouldn't hesitate in supporting me.”

Despite being 77 years old, this youthful spirit, Harbhajan Singh, finds himself drawn to the company of younger individuals. He shares,"I may be 77 years old, but my mind tells me, I'm still very young. When I go to tournaments, I prefer to stay with young athletes rather than with the older coaches. I find that I learn a lot from youngsters, from their technique, as well as from their outlook".

In the world of sports, whether or not he achieves the same level of fame as Harbhajan Singh, he is well on his way to earning the title of Australia's very own Fauja Singh. As his collection of medals continues to grow in Sydney, Harbhajan stands as an inspiration to all, proving that anyone can achieve their dreams at any age and on any stage, as long as they are willing to put in the necessary hard work and maintain the right attitude towards life.

*Based on an article by Manpreet Kaur Singh, published in the sikhchic.com on 19th October 2009 

 

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