Nanda Jhadav was one of the prominent stars in Indian athletics during the late 1900s, yet her name has been forgotten in the annals of history among India’s sports fans.
Born in the Sangli district of Maharashtra, Nanda’s father was a school teacher and mother, a home-maker. She was first noticed by Pandurang Mhaskar, a PT instructor from Kolhapur who was present as the chief guest when she won a 6km inter-school race.
On Mhaskar’s insistence, Nanda went on to train at Kolhapur despite the reservations of her family members regarding the same. There was no looking back since for a young Nanda Jhadav as she grabbed a Rs 500 scholarship from a trust and pursued a Master’s degree in commerce from the Kolhapur University and also underwent computer classes along with her daily training as a middle-distance runner.
Nanda made her national level debut in the 1984-85 season and bagged the bronze medal at the All India Varsity Meet. The next season saw her clinching gold medals in women’s 1500m and 3000m with a record timing for any Indian woman. In 1987, she came first in the cross-country race at the National Games in Pune and clinched two gold medals on the whole. She was also felicitated with Chhatrapati Shivaji Award in the same year for her performance in 1000m race.
Nanda was famously known for running barefeet. Once, one of her friends from Japan gifted her a pair of running shoes which she tried to use while running in the Pune Marathon, but she had to get rid off by the twenty-eighth kilometer. She had also won the Allahabad Marathon 4 times.
A girl who represented India over ten times at various parts of the world from Poland to New Zealand, Hongkong, Belgium and France, got married to an income tax official, Deepak Shamrao Ghanshyam in 1990s which marks the turning point in her life.
Nanda was unhappy in her married life as she was tortured for not being able to conceive a child by her husband and in-laws. However, when she was admitted in a hospital with severe burn marks in 1999, her dying declaration read that the stove on which she was working got exploded. Nanda's father tried his level best to get her in-laws behind the bars, but due to lack of evidence they were set free.
With her experience and extraordinary talent, she dreamt of starting up her own academy, yet the fate had it the other way and her dream remained a dream.