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School lends hand to braveheart lifter

“I snatch weights in my dream. My hands hit the wall next to my bed and I wake up,” weightlifter Rakhi Halder told an audience of schoolchildren in reply to a question from one of them.

The gold medallist in the 63kg category at the Oceania & Commonwealth Junior Championships was accorded a rousing felicitation by Khalsa Model Senior Secondary School on BT Road on Tuesday. The school had raised Rs 6,000 from among teachers and students while the management added another Rs 6,000 to make up a Rs 12,000 cheque for her. Rakhi was accompanied by her coach at Ranaghat’s Harvey Club, Chayan Kumar Das.

“We read out Rakhi’s story of grit, published in Metro, at our school assembly and decided to do something for such a promising sportsperson who lacks money to buy even a pair of lifter’s shoes,” said principal Jayant Biswas.

Rakhi faced a barrage of questions from the young audience. The girl from Habibpur village in Nadia district was asked about her diet, her hobby, her most memorable moment.... Rakhi got emotional when recalling the day a couple of years ago when her fisherman father suffered an accident. “My brother and I virtually survived on water that week, running from pillar to post trying to get medicines and money for his operation.”

Through her speech, Rakhi tried to inspire students to take up sports seriously. She even identified two girls as having the right build to be weightlifters. “She said she started weightlifting only in 2010. And I too could come up to the national level if I practise for six months. I will speak to my parents if they would allow me to visit the Sealdah railway club she told me about to try out weightlifting,” said Gennia Soor, a Class IX girl who is a green belt karateka.

Rakhi was mobbed by the students at the end of the programme, each wanting to shake her hand and many seeking her autograph. “Who knew such sights could be in store for a weightlifter?” wondered her coach, who had won a bronze medal at a national tournament before turning to coaching.

Rakhi was overwhelmed with the attention. “I will try to honour this love by trying my utmost to bring more medals for my country,” she said.