Harmohan Singh
Sydney 2000 Olympics
Man with the torch!!
walia1.gif (20742 bytes)walia2.gif (21797 bytes)walia3.gif (18057 bytes)
By Sumegha Agarwal (eStart Correspondent)

SYDNEY - He is a man with a mission, and now he is literally a torchbearer for his community. So much so that while in office, his colleagues start running towards him striking that famous pose. When he goes out for his daily running practice during lunch hour in Sydney's inner west, his colleagues and office goers from the neighbouring factories start cheering him. Meet Harmohan Singh Walia who will hold aloft the Olympic torch this September.

This devoted father of two grown-ups never ever thought that he would ever have something to do with the Olympics. Late last year, AMP (Financial services) one of the major sponsors offered its member companies to invite applications from their workers to get a place in the Olympic torch bearer team. Walia came across one such notice in his company, which asked applicants to write in 100 words the contributions they have made to their community.

Walia had impressive credentials in terms of working for his community. He actively participated in the activities of Sikh Mission Centre (Gurudwara), Austral for about three years. For the last eight years he has been contributing a 10 minute long news bulletin in Punjabi to two radio programmes - one in Sydney and other in Brisbane. He provided his voluntary news service for over three years to the Punjabi program of a Perth community radio station also. Each Saturday Walia spends all day browsing the internet and picking news from other sources for his weekly news bulletin. His family is getting used to the repertoire of community activities he is involved with. "Family wale dukhi the, ab addat pad gai hai (earlier they were not too happy about it but now they have got used to it)" chuckles Walia.

Son Indermohan is working as a Network engineer with an American company, while daughter Kanchan is working in the customer service sector. Wife Manbeen teaches English at Plumpton High school.

Walia applied and much to his joy he was selected. SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee for Olympic Games) had received 45,000 applications all over Australia for a community representative spot in the torch relay team. 5000 were selected. 10,000 runners who are doing an average run of 500 meters each will complete the torch relay.

It was a proud moment for Walia who had come a long way from Hoshiarpur in Punjab to Sydney. By profession a quality control engineer Walia's motto in life is, "if you take up something, do it with complete sincerity, honesty and diligence. And a job done well is his inspiration to keep taking up more challenges. Otherwise don't bother about it." He migrated to Australia with his family in the early nineties troubled by political turmoil in Punjab and decided to make Australia home.

Walia is humble in his achievement. He tells that he never played any sports at state or national level but he did play the regular Gulli-Danda, Pittu, Bante (games popular with Indian kids), Basketball, hockey, Cricket as he was growing up in his home town of Hoshiarpur.

However, he was always prepared to take up challenge. He remembers one time in particular when a group of friends (Rakesh Raj Gupta, Satish Sharda, K.K. Vohra, B.S Arora, Sehgal, late S.S. Rishi etc.) placed a bet to run from Patiala railway station to the ESCORTS-GOETZE factory gate, a distance of approximately 10 kms. A time limit of 70 min. was placed on this run and Rs500 was collected for the winner. Three of them accepted the challenge including Walia, but the two friends gave up very early and Walia finished the run in 64 minutes. Walia could not walk for two days but for sure with the money earned in the bet they enjoyed a good party.

This time Walia has to run only 500 m with the torch along Punchbowl Road from Wiley Avenue and finish at House No. 353 on Roberts Road in the area of Greenacre/Punchbowl, at approximately 9.15 am on Tuesday, 12 September. For this run he seems to have attracted the attention of the whole world including his homeland. For this run he is running every day five days a week since January this year when AMP and SOCOG announced his selection.

Walia is lovingly preparing his gear for the run. If you visit Walia at home, the stand for the torch is sitting in his lounge room waiting for the torch Walia will be entitled to bring home after the run. He has already paid for the torch and has bought many Olympic T-shirts, badges and caps etc.

Liverpool council has organised community celebration at Woodward Park, Liverpool at 1.30 pm to welcome the torch. AMP will present Walia with a unique memento of the day and he will sign the historic "Book of Australian Torchbearers". Devinder Singh Dharia, Director Punjab Sangeet Centre and his group will entertain the gathering with a Bhangra Dance during the celebrations.

On Sepetember 12 Walia is expecting a large group of friends, colleagues, his sponsors and members of the local Sikh Community to cheer up this Flying Sikh of Sydney.

Like his mother who is deep into music and at 73 still does regular Kirtan (religious music) at the local Gurudwara at Hoshiarpur, Walia is a musician. He plays Tabla and Jalatarang (Indian classical instruments).

In Sydney, he has accompanied in many performances. At home in his suburb, Walia is a conscientious neighbour. If ever an alarm goes off, Walia is the first person to rush out and check and he did manage to stall some home break-ins. He was able to influence the local minister to have more police patrol in his area which is prone to home break-ins.

(Courtesy estartindia www.estart.com , www.iaol.com)

good Images
good Images

See Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Copyright Jadoo Information Systems - Australia