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Success in sails, eye on peak
- Hardships notwithstanding, state rower makes it big

Cuttack, April 30: At just 21, Pravasini Dwibedy is riding high on a wave of success.

Her long tally of achievements include 34 medals on the rowing arena with 26 golds and a silver. In October 2005, Pravasini brought home a gold medal in the lightweight coxless four-2000 metres at the 11th Asian Rowing Championship in Hyderabad.

Four months later, the athlete from Ratadiha, a nondescript village in Orissa’s Kendrapada district, bagged four gold medals at the 26th Open Rowing National championship in the same venue. Capping off a successful 2006, Pravasini won three gold medals and a silver at the All-India Inter Regions Competition in Jagatpur, Cuttack.

Hungry for more, Pravasini carried on with the same oomph and panache in 2007 as well with some stellar performances in at the Open National and Sprint National Championship in Bhopal in January, where she notched top honours in lightweight single and double sculls. She further claimed three more gold medals and a silver in the 33rd National Games in Guwahati in February.

“Her dedication to a life of boats, oars and training sessions has seen her rise to one of India’s top lightweight rowers,” said Brigadier K.P. Singhdeo, secretary-general of Rowing Federation of India.

Coach Joshe Jacob, too, is effusive in praise. “Her results, dedication to training, drive and motivation have put her a notch above others,” the coach said.

Life’s, however, not a cakewalk for the student of Laxmi Varaha College at Aul in Kendrapara. Hailing from a poor family, the going to keep body and soul together has often been tougher then the gruelling six-day-a-week training regimes at the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

“Things have been so bad at times that I just wished to call it quits,” Pravasini said. But she returned to her true calling once again, this time with a firmer pledge and commitment to steer through the crisis as she does with the boat and the oar.

More and more hard work, along with a steady academic record, she believes would certainly kindle her chances for a job in the future. However, she confesses, “it’s quite hard to strike a balance between studies and sport”.

The young rower acknowledges the role of SAI deputy director M. Kujru’s role in fostering a sporting career for her along with studies.

Under a special area programme, SAI provides her with all the equipment, training and coaching at Jagatpur besides empathising with her academic commitments.

Asked about her future aspirations, Pravasini wants to divide them equally between her personal dreams and her family. “I aspire for an Olympic title, but earning livelihood for the family is my immediate goal,” she said.

Having lost her father a couple of years ago, the eldest child in the family has to earn a living for the family comprising her mother Anshubala and a younger sister.

Cash awards, meanwhile, have poured in despite the proverbial “procedural delays”. “The ministry of human resource development had rewarded her with cash prizes of Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 52,000 for her stunning performances in the Asian Rowing Championship,” said Binod Dash, secretary, Orissa Association for Rowing and Sculling.

Earlier, the Orissa Cricket Association, too, had given her a cash prize of Rs 1.4 lakh.

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