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Overcoming poverty and personal tragedies, Andhra Pradesh sports women shine in Khelo India

Winning the gold against all odds! Rajitha came first in the 400 m running in the ongoing Khelo India Games was supported by her mother to train following her father's untimely death

Some of the sportspersons from Andhra Pradesh who did wonders at the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games are exemplary examples of grit, perseverance and hard work. Their achievements came about in face of adverse circumstances like poverty and losing breadwinners in their families.

Such instances fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Khel India providing a platform for the youth of the country to showcase their talent in the field of sports, irrespective of their background.

Take the case of three girls who are children of manual workers and yet their sheer passion for athletics and sports kept them going and winning medals. In the 400 metres girls’ event, Rajitha picked the gold while Sireesha from her State got the bronze.

Hailing from Ramachandrapuram village in AP’s East Godavari district, Rajitha belongs to the Koya tribe. Having lost her father when young, her mother had to shoulder the responsibility of the five children. Talking about her mother, Rajitha said: “She worked as a labourer, morning to night, but still couldn’t earn enough to feed all of us. All of us used to gather dried tree leaves and twigs to kindle our hearths because we couldn’t buy kerosene. It was a daily fight, to survive. But my mother, like a true warrior, never gave up.”

When Rajitha’s innate talent for running was noted by Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh coaches Vamsi Sai Kiran and Krishna Mohan, she was trained and she got a chance to train under Mike Russell.

Having participated in Khelo India Youth Games and won medals she was also a member of the Indian relay team in Nairobi.

Runner Sireesha who is from Srikakulam’s Mandarada village also lost her father in 2019 in an accident. Following that her mother works as a labourer to take care of the family. “Despite the sudden demise of my father, my mother insisted that I continued my career as an athlete. For a long time, two meals were a luxury for us,” said Sireesha.

Recalling her father who encouraged her to take up athletics, Sireesha said: “This is my first medal in the Khelo India Games after a not so good show in the first Khelo Games.” She is grateful that her father saw her win a gold medal in the Junior National Championships in Tirupati in 2018.

Daughter of a mason labourer, 18-year-old S Pallavi is from Kondavelagada, Vizianagaram district who along with her father, Laxmi Naidu, overcame all odds to become a weightlifter. Her father worked extra hours to provide diet for Pallavi. Talking about him after winning the gold medal, she said: “I can’t tell you what all my father has sacrificed for me. Today, I dedicate this medal in his honour.”

Also read: Maharashtra farmer’s daughter fulfils father’s dream by winning wrestling medal in Khelo India Games