New Delhi: We often have our eyes set on the medal tallies of international sporting events but how many of the heroes who clinch those medals make it beyond the ‘fifteen seconds of fame’? asks Shikha Gupta, an assistant professor of Delhi University (DU).
Delhi University to publish stories of unsung sports heroes
Gupta, who is supervising a DU project to publish stories of such unsung heroes, told PTI that “we are in the process of compiling a book containing stories of such sportspersons who made the country proud but never got their due. In India, even a one-test (cricket match) wonder or an IPL hero gets more fame and fortune than an Olympics medal winner!” rued Gupta.
Six DU students and two students from University of Copenhagen, Denmark are also working on the book, titled ‘Indian Sports heroes: Glory In Vain’, which is likely to hit the market within next six months.
“We are identifying such sportspersons who bagged certain medals for the country but were not duly rewarded for their efforts. This practice discourages the youngsters to take up sports as full time career. Imagine even after clinching a medal at Olympics, a year later no one even knows about you,” said Gupta, attached with DU’s Cluster Innovation Centre.
“We will document such stories so that at least tales of their contribution can reach the maximum people. So far, we have identified ten such sportspersons. We haven’t decided on a fixed number, we will work on as many stories as we can,” she added.
“We were surprised to know the story of wrestler K D Jadhav, who was the first individual Olympic medallist of India in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He had no money to travel for the games and his trip to Helsinki was sponsored by contributions from relatives and friends. Though he was an Arjuna awardee, he had to sell of his medals due to poverty. His son Ranjit Jadhav shared the story with us…,” said Gupta.
Another touching story was that of athlete Dutee Chand, whose participation in international events was banned due to hyperandrogenism, she said.
Shanti Devi, who was part of Bihar’s team that won the National Kabaddi Championships in 1982 and 1983, these days sells vegetables at the Sonari Aerodrome Market in Jamshedpur to feed her four children.
Teenager sprinter Sita Sahu who won two bronze medals at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens now sells ‘gol gappe’ in Dhobiya Tanke in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.
“India’s women Kabaddi team, which won the World Cup in 2011, had to return home in auto-rickshaws from the airport. No flower garlands, no red carpet, no trumpets, no crowd, nothing!” Gupta said, adding the list seems to have no end.
“To identify more such sportspersons and to get their stories, we are conducting meetings with Sports Authority of India officials, leading sports journalists, coaches and training academies, among others,” she said.