Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Asian Games

From drought-hit farms to Asiad medal - Neha Thakur sails on uncharted journey

Indian sailor Neha Thakur charts a brilliant journey by hailing from a drought-hit district of Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, and winning an Asian Games silver medal in China.

From drought-hit farms to Asiad medal - Neha Thakur sails on uncharted journey

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 27 Sep 2023 12:42 PM GMT

It is ironic that someone who belongs to a drought-prone area deprived of water goes on to win an Asian Games medal in Sailing. But such is the beauty of sports, that it keeps on churning such stories.

Neha Thakur, who hails from Amaltaj village of Dewas District in the state of Madhya Pradesh, opened India's medal account in Sailing at the 2023 Asian Games with a silver in girl's Dinghy ICLA4 event.

The young 17-year-old sailor has been on a constant rise in the past year with a bronze medal at the Asian Sailing Championships in March 2022.

Talking about her medal, Neha said, "This medal doesn't only belong to me. There have been a lot of people who have worked behind the scenes but they are not visible. My government has supported me and sent me to train outside India. My coaches and parents have been a big support to me."

Whatever she said makes complete sense as the youngster was handpicked into the National Sailing School of Bhopal in a talent hunt programme.

For parents letting go of a kid at a young age was very tough, but such sacrifices of the past become the success stories of today.

Soybean farms and drought - Neha's humble beginnings

Hailing from the drought-prone district of Dewas, Neha's hometown has seen acres of land becoming dead due to the lack of water. Such was the situation that Indian railways had to help, bringing water to the city during the summer of 2015-16.

Neha took up sailing inspired by her cousins who were representing the Indian Navy at that time. In 2017, she was selected for the National Sailing School and it was her big breakthrough.

"She (Neha) always was very ambitious as a child and I thought it was just perfect to pursue her dream after she was picked in the talent-hunt program. Her brothers have supported her a lot," her father, Mukesh Kumar told PTI.

Mukesh Kumar, who is a soybean farmer, faces losses every year due to poor harvesting but never lets that come in the way of the dreams of her daughter.

"My parents have worked hard for this. I saw this dream and I am happy to win my first Asian Games medal," Neha said after her win.

Hard work and big dreams

After the medal, the sailboat was shaking but another person who was shaking with happiness was the coach of Neha, Narender Singh Rajput.

"She is here because of her discipline and determination. She saw a dream and worked hard to achieve it. We have worked hard together for this. We went to multiple training camps outside India and all of that is visible in today's result," Narender said.

Apart from her hard work and determination, the universe also favoured her. When the Asian Games were delayed last year, Ritika Dangi, her senior from NSS was supposed to represent India in girls' Dinghy ICLA4. But with the game being postponed, Ritika became ineligible for the event as it was for U-17 girls. Neha, who won bronze at the Asian meet last year, became the automatic choice for the event.

"Her improvement after the foreign trip has been extremely rapid. It won't be long before we will see her in ICLA6 which is an Olympic category," he added.

Well, the Olympic dream or not is a different question, but what Neha has achieved in Hangzhou at 17 deserves a celebration.

Next Story