Asian Games 2018: Five Sportswomen, Five Challenges
India is sending a big 571-athlete contingent to the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia. 311 men and 260 women playing 36 diverse sports. The women in sports are some of India’s finest and fittest.
While talking about significant achievements in each field, there remains one common concern – the challenges on the way. Despite the rigorous training, one target and big hopes, there are hurdles they must overcome.
Dutee Chand (Sprint) – HURDLE – Spikes
“For sprinters, the most important equipment is their spikes and I revere mine,” said National record-holder in 100m Dutee Chand, Indian Express reported.
“Before I put them on, I place them on my forehead and say a little prayer. It’s a bond probably only a runner can understand,” she added.
When asked about the challenges she faced, her first concern was: “I received my first pair of spikes in 2006. Until then, I had no idea that running shoes have spikes underneath.”
Talking about her initial struggles, she said, “I come from a village where only the rich could afford a pair of shoes. So owning shoes was a big deal back then. When I began running, I did it barefoot.”
Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling) – HURDLE – Basic Facilities
“If you want an Olympic medal, you have to provide matching facilities too. We train irrespective of the conditions but it affects recovery and becomes a cause of injuries. The wrestling hall (in Lucknow) was so hot even this time, despite being a rainy season,” said wrestler Vinesh, a Commonwealth Games 2018 gold medallist, ahead of the Asian Games.
“We were sweating a lot and it affects your recovery. I started feeling pain in my knee. Sometimes there is no electricity. And I had to skip training sometimes. But what do we do?” the 23-year old Vinesh from Haryana told TOI.
Hima Das (Sprint) – HURDLE – Training
The daughter of a rice farmer, Hima Das recently created history. Now, all eyes are on her, hoping she brings an Asiad gold. The world’s best Under-20 women’s 400 metre runner face hurdles when it comes to physical training. Every runner needs to have equipment and infrastructure to be trained like a pro. The problem is that Hima’s small village in Assam has none.
“She won all the athletics events. I told the district sports officer that she can do well if trained properly,” her physical training teacher told Hindustan Times. “She was focused and wanted to win everything even as a child.”
Explaining where Das comes from, her coach Nabajit Malakar said, “Before this, she was in a village where she had never seen a synthetic track.”
- For India’s sportspersons, even though they are big names in their respective fields, access to basic facilities is still a major problem.
- Lack of proper gear, training equipment and tracks hamper them from achieving glory.
- Lack of sponsors is another big problem that most sportspersons face.
Seema Punia (Discus Throw) – HURDLE – Sponsors
Seema Punia won hearts after claiming a second consecutive silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, but in the end it’s a gold that counts.
“I have trained here, I have trained abroad too. What should I tell you about the technicalities? How many hours are spent lifting the discus? How do I explain things to somebody who doesn’t know the dynamics of my sport,” said the 34-year-old discus thrower, frustrated by the way this country treats its sportspersons.
Talking about her fellow champion Navjeet Dhillon and how they all need support for discus throw to survive, she claimed, “She can deliver a medal, if youngsters like her don’t get support, discus throw is finished. They should get sponsors,” Economic Times reported.
Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics) -HURDLE – Fear Factor
According to her coach, Dipa still needs to overcome the “fear factor” that plays out in the mind of an athlete following a career-threatening injury.
Still recovering from a surgery, Gymnast Dipa Karmakar is now eyeing Asian Games glory. “I would say she is about 90 per cent fit now. She will start taking full load from next month onwards,” her coach Bisweshwar Nandi had told PTI in May. She also skipped the World Gymnastics Championships last year as she is recovering slowly from a knee surgery.
“She has to peak at the right time and most importantly leave aside the fear factor that she might get injured again. As a coach, I know you can’t just erase the injury from your memory. It might prevent you from giving your 100 per cent but you have to find a way to deal with it,” said Nandi.
Feature Image Credit: IAAF / Twitter