Budding boxers Archana Rout and Preeti Kumari can hope to parry the hunger punch soon.
State sports mandarins in Ranchi have sought a detailed profile of the medal-winning duo so that they get their well-deserved share of the hitherto elusive government cash prize and promised scholarship.
In its Tuesday’s edition, The Telegraph had highlighted how abject poverty coupled with inadequate diet was knocking out chances of Archana (12) and Preeti (14) becoming celebrated pugilists.
Within hours state sports director Sant Kumar Verma issued strict instructions to his department officials. They were asked to get in touch with the secretary of Jharkhand Amateur Boxing Association and the boxing coach for details of the deprived girls.
Archana, the daughter of a paralysed contract worker, has given sterling performances in the sub-junior category, winning gold in state meets in 2010 and 2011, both in Jamshedpur. She clinched the yellow metal again at the 2011 sub-junior national tourney in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and a bronze at the sub-junior nationals in Calcutta in May 2012.
Preeti, whose father is a cobbler, too won gold in Coimbatore and bronze in Calcutta.
According to government rules, an athlete winning gold in a national tournament stands to gain Rs 10,000. A silver medal is lauded with Rs 5,000 cash prize and bronze with Rs 3,000. Besides, there is a provision for scholarship for budding players. But, Archana and Preeti claim they have not received a single penny from the government so far.
Verma insisted that to his knowledge, sincere efforts had been made to give scholarships and cash prizes to all medal-winning athletes in the past and they would probe how these two promising sportspersons had missed out on government benefits.
“After going through the report (in The Telegraph), I have asked my staff to get in touch with boxing association secretary Dinesh Upadhyay and coach Ernest Lakra. We will also check our records to see whether they have been benefited by the government scheme. If not, we will initiate measures to arrange for their prize money and scholarships as soon as possible,” he added.
Verma also conceded that he had taken charge as sports director only a month ago and, hence, was not aware of prize discrimination, if any. “I promise to look into our records and do everything possible so that the two girls can remain in the ring,” he reiterated.
Since both Upadhyay and Lakra stay in Jamshedpur, the department has given them the choice to present a joint report at the earliest.
The girls never asked for more. “It will be a big boost for my career. I just want to bring medal glory for my state,” beamed Archana. “My mother wants me to give up boxing. Now, I can convince her against it,” piped in Preeti.