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Sonia Baishya: The girl from North Bengal in India's 4*400m relay team

Sonia Baishya: The girl from North Bengal in Indias 4*400m relay team

Sudip Pakrashi

Published: 16 April 2019 5:05 AM GMT

Sonia Baishya is one athlete whose name is not quite discussed in the sports community. She hails from Raiganj district in North Bengal. With almost zero infrastructural support there, young Sonia started running on a small, grassy, and uneven field.

At the junior level, she earned quite a few medals. Still, she never made it into the national squad for international meets. With continuous inspiration from her father Barendra Nath Baishya, who worked as a contractor of the state government, Sonia kept on running and did not give up the fight against financial crisis. Following an impressive timing in the 400m Open Nationals in Chennai, where she won gold, Sonia was finally chosen for the senior national preparatory camp in 2017. But the resident of Netajipally, was a victim of mistreatment by the West Bengal State Athletics Association, as she was not informed on time.

The 22-year old girl also had a constant fight against injury. She got admitted to Sports Authority of India (Kolkata centre). But back injury as well as lack of proper care from the coaches forced her to go down again. While speaking to The Bridge from national preparatory camp in Patiala, Sonia said, “Training at SAI Kolkata for around five months in 2016 was a mess. I was not being looked after properly. Additionally, a back injury forced me to leave SAI and go for a complete three month rest."

"Then I resumed training under Aravinda Dey. It was Mr. Dey whose care and perfect guidance steered me to clock 53.09 seconds at the Open National meet in 2017. I was called up in the national preparatory camp after that."

Baishya has participated in two major international meets so far. One was at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The other one was Asian Games Invitational meet in the same year. She won a gold medal at the Asian Games Invitational meet that was held in Indonesian capital Jakarta in February last year. Baishya, 22, ran the quarter mile in a time of 53.53 seconds, to pip teammate Nithya Shree Ananda who clocked 54.34 seconds. It was a personal best for the West Bengal athlete beating her previous best by .45 seconds.

Sonia running in the 400m final at the Asian Games Invitational Tournament. (Photo Credits: ANTARA FOTO/Sigid Kurniawan)

Coach Galina Bukharina has helped me a lot

However, Sonia was ruled out of the national team for its exposure trip to Turkey recently, despite being in the national preparatory camp for the Asian Championship.

“I always get psychologically down whenever I am thrown out of the main team. I have been deprived several times of getting proper exposure. I also was crushed after being ruled out of the national team for exposure trip to Turkey,” she commented. The athlete seems to have found a solution to it. Sonia revealed, “I have regularly been watching Sandeep Maheshwari motivational videos."

Looking forward to forthcoming Asian Championship, Sonia said, “Presence of our coach Galina Bukharina has helped me a lot. The most important thing which I like is that, she always evaluates each athlete’s physical ability and applies that in her coaching style. She is great in understanding the strengths of each athlete and ability to implement the same in competitions.”

Baishya was nervous before the final selection trial for the forthcoming Asian Championship which concluded on Saturday. She informed, “My timing in the team trial was 53.8 seconds. It was not satisfactory. Our 4X400 relay team had already qualified for the Championship. But coach Galina asked me about my unimpressive timing. However, she has faith on me and I know I will improve." The middle-distance women’s relay team will depart for Doha on 18th April.
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