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Athletics

How Lalita Babar changed the mindset of her village

How Lalita Babar changed the mindset of her village
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Published: 26 Jun 2019 7:15 AM GMT
Lalita Babar, India’s second female athlete to have qualified for the final round of a track event (3000 steeplechase) in the Olympics, 32 years after P T Usha, is again on a break following a knee injury. The iron lady from Mohi village in Satara district of Maharashtra resumed training after her marriage during the last quarter of 2017. In the next year, she took part in two cross-country running events. She also was among the contenders in the selection trial for the Jakarta Asian Games. But Lalita sustained a similar injury to her knee during that selection trial. Now the 30-year-old long distance runner seems busy with her newborn child. Speaking to
The Bridge
from her village on Monday morning, Lalita said, “My son is only one-month-old. My knee injury has not yet fully healed so for the last couple of months, I am completely out of the track, resting in home and looking after my son.” Though she is sceptical about her return to the track, she disclosed she will pursue the sport till the 2022 Asian Games, to be held in China. In spite of the obstructions to her running, she has been contributing to the sport from off the track. Latita explained, “There is a college in Mohi. Whenever I go to the village, I get a huge response from those college girls. Around 50 to 60 girls who are practicing athletics, come to me for discussion, advice and even sometimes I watch their training before offering tips. I feel so proud to have earned this honor and affection from those girls.”
Lalita’s guidance has already steered one junior girl from Mohi to the next level; her name is Vaishnavi. She also takes part in steeplechase. Lalita’s advice has helped her get medals in the state-level competition and now Vaishnavi is under the training of a professional coach in Pune. Lalita stressed on the point that after return from the Rio Olympics, she received massive reception from the residents of her village which has changed the perspectives of parents in Mohi. They are now refraining from getting their daughters married at the age of 18. Lalita continued, “My parents inspired me, continuously pushing me to devote my life to athletics after having watched my passion. They fought against our society, the villagers who always forced to get their daughters married at the age of 18. Today, after I have been successful, the mindset of the villagers has changed a lot. No girl in my village is being forced to marry at an early age. It is a great pride for me.” The steeplechase medalist in several national and international tournaments, who is presently an employee of Indian Railway, is all set to join state government as a deputy collector within the next couple of months. Then she will start taking the initiative for the foundation of her dream academy. She commented, “It might be in Mumbai where I live. It may take place in Mohi also. I will create another steeplechase runner who will bring laurels more than me.”
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