Celebrity chef Saransh Goila has enjoyed an early taste of the approaching Commonwealth Games while dining at one of the Gold Coast's premier restaurants with Indian-Australian wrestler Rupinder Kaur Sandhu.
Mr Goila was on Australia's Gold Coast filming his latest on-line show Run to Eat.
The chef, who shot to fame after winning the Food Food Maha Challenge, jogged along some of the Gold Coast's 52km of pristine beaches before meeting with Ms Kaur Sandhu at picturesque Burleigh Headland.
Ms Kaur Sandhu is from Patiala in the Punjabi district of Tarn Taran but now lives in Melbourne, Australia.
She competed internationally for India in wrestling before moving to Australia in 2007 to study.
While studying in Melbourne she met Australian Sikander Sandhu. They married in 2013.
Ms Kaur Sandhu gained Australian citizenship the following year and competed in Australia's green and gold national colours in the wrestling competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
She is now hoping to win a medal for Australia at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games from April 4-15.
Ms Kaur Sandhu was on the Gold Coast inspecting the impressive GC2018 facilities – many completed more than 12 months ahead of the Games – when she met up with Mr Goila.
He had built up a huge appetite after his morning run and Ms Kaur Sandhu suggested they dine at the nearby Rick Shores, an award-winning restaurant within metres of the waves on the beach at Burleigh.
The restaurant's extensive and creative vegetarian menu was ideal, both agreed.
“If I opened a restaurant I think I would want it here in Queensland because the produce is so fresh,” Goila said during the lunch.
Ms Kaur Sandhu is eagerly looking forward to competing at the Gold Coast after disappointment at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In Glasgow, Ms Kaur Sandhu stunningly failed to make her 48kg weight division by just 200 grams - about the same weight as a glass of water.
She was forced to compete against heavier and more powerful opponents in the 53kg class.
Not surprisingly, the diminutive Indian-Australian was swatted aside.
She says the experience has made her much stronger, mentally and physically, as she prepares for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
“It was a big, big, big mistake. I can never forget that,” Ms Kaur Sandhu says.
“This time on the Gold Coast I am not going to take a chance.”
To be wrestling internationally, and now competing comfortably within her weight limit (her class is 50kg at this year's Games), is a remarkable achievement for Ms Kaur Sandhu given she only returned to the sport a little over a year ago after the birth of her daughter Saheb.
“My doctor suggested that I should be careful while doing a high-impact sport within a few months of giving birth,” Ms Kaur Sandhu recalls.
“But he knew I was passionate about wrestling, physically strong and a bit cautious.
“Once I got back to competition, I knew that, at times, technique and experience counts more than physical strength.”
Having Saheb and Sikander on the sidelines at this year's Commonwealth Games is going to be a huge boost, Ms Kaur Sandhu says.
Her mother, sister and members of her extended family are also coming to the Gold Coast to cheer while Australia's huge Indian community has thrown its passionate support behind Ms Kaur Sandhu.
Tens of thousands of Indian tourists visit the Gold Coast and Queensland annually making it one of the strongest-growing sectors in Australian tourism.
Indian visitors are always eager to immerse themselves in destination experiences including nature parks and the Great Barrier Reef while also finding authentic Indian cuisine complemented by fresh Queensland seafood and produce.
“Indians love the Gold Coast, so it was not hard to convince anyone to come to Queensland and cheer me once I was selected for the Commonwealth Games,” Ms Kaur Sandhu says.
Ms Kaur Sandhu says the Gold Coast will be ideal for competitors and visitors alike.
“Glasgow was good, but the Gold Coast will be better,” she says.
“There is so much to see in Queensland, the warm weather in April will be great, everyone will have fun.
“The Gold Coast is about a healthy lifestyle, the beaches are the best and kids can have fun.
“My family will definitely be exploring everything there once my event is over.”
Ms Kaur Sandhu's journey to the Gold Coast has been a remarkable one.
Her family helped steer her into competition sports.
Her father was an avid sports fan while her older sister was accomplished in judo.
As a primary school student, Ms Kaur Sandhu tired of being tossed around at home as her sister practised her sport and started training in judo herself.
She started winning bouts easily then tried her hand at wrestling, where success also came quickly.
Since moving to Australia and acquiring citizenship, Ms Kaur Sandhu has won multiple national championships and an Australian Cup gold medal.
April on the Gold Coast - in front of family, friends and supporters here and in India - looms as a crowning moment for Ms Kaur Sandhu.
“I am really happy to be part of the Australian team and also very proud that there will be people from India and Australians of Indian heritage that will be cheering for me as well,” she says.
“The Gold Coast is famous around the world. Now it is going to be very special for me.”
Copyright free courtesy Tourism and Events Queensland
Author: Geoff Stead
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