NEW DELHI: Two hulking weightlifters from opposite sides of the often tense India-Pakistan frontier shared the podium at the Commonwealth Games — and then celebrated together to their favourite rapper.
The affinity between Pakistani gold medallist Nooh Dastgir Butt and India’s Gurdeep Singh, who came third in the 109+ kg category in Birmingham on Wednesday, stands in stark contrast to the nuclear-armed neighbours’ political rivalry.
Those tensions often spill into the sporting arena — they only play each other at cricket in multi-nation events, despite it being by far the most popular sport in both countries.
The two weightlifters come from either side of Punjab, a state divided between the neighbours at Partition 75 years ago, and have a common language and culture.
They also share a love of the music of murdered Punjabi rapper Sidhu Moose Wala.
The two strongmen were born about 250 kilometres (155 miles) apart and according to the 26-year-old Singh first met in junior championships six years ago.
They “would share tips about diet. Conversing in Punjabi obviously helped our friendship”, he told. The Indian Express from Birmingham. Commonwealth Games champion Butt, 24, described them as “very good friends”.
“After the gold, I first congratulated Gurdeep and later we did a small celebration where we danced to Moose Wala’s songs,” he said.
Moose Wala, also known by his birth name Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, was shot dead in his car in the Indian state of Punjab in May.