By Pallavi Ghosh:
Imagine what it would be like if Sachin after scoring a century was faced with a bunch of indifferent people saying, “So what?” We like to believe that we are a nation of warm people, who love appreciating skills and efforts of our countrymen and others as well. But are we equally welcoming and appreciative of all sport stars? Take a look at some of these wonder women who despite having created many national and international records, might not be as easily etched in our minds as an unforgettable Sachin.
Tintu was born and brought up in Valathode- a small village in the Kannur district of Kerala. This April born athlete bagged a gold medal recently in June 2015 in the 800 metres final at Wuhan. Luka touched the red ribbon recording a win in 2:01.53. However her career best has been at Split (Paljoud Stadion) where her record timings were 1:59:17 back in 2010. You can try running away from her achievements, but with her speed Luka is likely to catch up pretty effortlessly with you. Whooosh!
The one name that comes to every mind when one speaks of chess is that of the Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. But he is not the only one making a name for India through strategic moves on a board. Meet Koneru Humpy. Humpy is an Indian chess Grandmaster and is currently ranked 3rd in world ranking with a peak rating of 2623 in 2009. At 15, Humpy held the record of being the youngest woman Grandmaster ever and retained the title for 6 long years. In 1999, she emerged as Asia’s youngest International Woman Master and two years later won the World junior championship in Athens. You think women play mind games? Try out-mastering Humpy.
Geeta Phogat is India’s first woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics back in 2012. So it was in Balali village in Haryana that people thought women had no business muscling their way around in the world. For some, they still do not have any business in the world at all, as they are seen to be a burden on the family. There came Geeta, who literally fought her way into the world and made a significant space for her in it. With no women wrestlers to compete with, Geeta wrestled with men. Ka-pow!
Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla
Not even two years after being born, Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla was rendered paralysed due to polio. It was a regular electric shock treatment for two years that restored the strength of her upper body, although the lower portion below the waist remained weak.
Holla did not back down and started pursuing sports to live life in the best possible way. She began with participating in games at the college level and was soon taking part in international events as well including the Para-Olympics. And the best she did achieve. She has won more than 300 medals at the national and international levels. From 100m and 200m race to javelin, discus and shot put, Malathi has won medals in all of them. Given her mammoth achievements, she was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1995 and the Padama Shri in2001.
Born in a village in eastern UP, Preeti Kumari faced an early bump in her aspiration as a basketball player when her father, Basant Singh Yadav said, “Humaari bitiya basketball nahi khelegi (My daughter will not play basketball).” It was Anita Devi, her mother who got the better of her husband and convinced him to allow Preeti to follow her aspirations. It was in the college courts of Udia Pratap in Varanasi that Preeti, who is now known as the Pocket Dynamite, was first taken in by the sport. From a casual whim to a promising career, Preeti’s success in basketball at the national level has indeed been a dream run. Amongst her achievements are the 51-point score in an overtime at the junior nationals against the stalwarts in the game – Tamil Nadu. It was again in the 65th National Basketball Championship in 2014, that Preeti made the most out of her time in the court despite a leg injury and scored a quick 17 points in the second half of the match. Uttar Pradesh managed to secure a bronze medal at the national level by defeating Maharashtra by two points. The promising player believes that her biggest strength comes from her fearless attitude. She says, “I think my biggest strength is that I am never afraid. I just work hard knowing that people will support me in my ambitions.”
If this is the first time you are hearing of them, may be you can hear the sound of an alarming bias beeping in you. I could hear it too. But the idea is not to go in an everlasting guilt trip; it is to begin by acknowledging, recognising and celebrating the talent and achievements of women sport stars much like we do for our Sachins and Kohlis.