Sudeshna of Maharashtra beats asthma to win 3 medals in athletics at Khelo India Youth Games

As Hanmant Shivankar stood stoically near the victory podium, his mind raced to the day several years ago when he learned that his daughter had escaped to compete in an athletics event.

“A wave of panic gripped me,” he said as he watched his daughter soak up the adulation during a victory ceremony at the Indian Youth Games in Khelo, revealing in a moving voice that Sudeshna had been diagnosed with childhood asthma and the family had done everything to keep smoke and dust away to avoid inflaming her lungs and airways.
“Her physical education teacher at school had called to ask for my consent to take Sudeshna to the athletics competition. I had flatly refused,” he revealed.

But the professor and Sudeshna had conspired to participate in the event anyway.

“I somehow learned of their journey and ran to the event, hoping to stop it. But, by the time I reached the place, Sudeshna had already won the race,” laughed Hanmant.

More importantly, she had also caught the eye of athletic trainer Balwant Babar, who was then Taluka’s sports officer.

All these years later, Sudeshna of Maharashtra has not only emerged as the fastest woman in KIYG, but also the best performer in athletics, having scored an eye-catching hat-trick in the sprints, winning gold in the 100m, 200 m and 4×100 m.

Recalling this incident, Sudeshna said, “Fortunately, my parents were at our house in Kharshi, about 20 km from Satara. From that day, of course, they gave me all the support I needed,” she said.

When asked how her PT teacher even picked her for the sprint, Sudeshna revealed that she used to play kho-kho with the girls at school without her parents knowing. . It was his speed that caught the professor’s attention.

“During those days, if I had an asthma attack, I rested and started playing against after a while. It never bothered me,” she said.

As his condition improved with regular training and advancing age, Sudeshna began to make his mark on the track, reaching the 4×100 relay team reserve roster for National School Championships at Bhopal two years later.

A year later, she qualified for the Indian Youth Games in Pune Khelo in the U-17 category and won the gold medal in the 100m.

But competing in Pune also taught her the difference between racing on a mud track and a synthetic track, as until then she had only trained on a mud track at her home in Satara. The nearest synthetic track in Kolhapur is about 120 km from his hometown.

Although Sudeshna and her trainer tried to go to Kolhapur for training at least once a month, it was not always possible. So Coach Babar changed his strategy.

“My trainer started to develop my technique needed for a synthetic track. You have to lean forward and have a good knee lift. Over the last few years he’s been working on that a lot and it’s showing results now.” she conceded. .

Sudeshna was hoping to make the qualifying time for the U20 World Championships to be played in Cali, Colombia from August 1 at the National Federation Cup juniors tie in Nadiad, Gujarat. But the immense heat did not allow her to give her best and she finished fourth in the 100m and 200m races, without reaching the qualifying mark.

“By the time I got here I had acclimatized to the heat. Also the blue track here is slightly faster than the red one and I was confident of a good performance here,” she said. declared.

Sudeshna not only dominated the sprint events in Panchkula, but his times – 11.79s in the 100m and 24.29s in the 200m – were better than the qualification standard set by the Indian Athletics Federation for the Championships of the U20 world.

She has now asked the AFI to consider her performance here for the U20 world selection and hopes she will be on the flight to Cali next month.

And if that happens, Hanmant Shivankar would be glad he didn’t stop his child from running due to unhealthy asthma.


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