|I requested the state government for
some financial help in July.... Time is running
out and I fear my dreams will be
dashed after toiling so hard
Beaten up by an orthodox father for taking part in sports as a child, forced to take a nearly decade-long break because of health problems, a comeback at well past 40 and a win in every shot-put event she has taken part in since 2009 but a funds crunch now threatens to halt her golden run.
Baby Ghosh, 50, won gold in shot-put and bronze in discus throw at the 17th Asia Masters Athletics Championships in Taipei last November to qualify for the World Masters Athletics Championships at Porto Alegre, Brazil, next month.
But Ghosh is struggling to put together Rs 3 lakh, the minimum required to make it to the world meet for athletes over 35 years of age. Only two more athletes from Bengal will take part in the event.
“I requested the state government for some financial help in July and they have been making me run from pillar to post since then. Time is running out and I fear my dreams will be dashed after toiling so hard,” said Ghosh, who has registered for the event by paying Rs 10,000. Her registration may be cancelled if she doesn’t pay Rs 65,000 immediately to the travel agency, which has already issued her an ultimatum.
This is not the first time Ghosh has appealed to the government. “Before going to Taipei, I made repeated requests and got only Rs 20,000 whereas my expenditure for the trip was Rs 2 lakh. My husband had to arrange the rest,” she said. “For the Sri Lanka Masters Athletics Championships last month, we had to spend Rs 76,000 on our own. Now it’s impossible to arrange for such a large amount for the Brazil trip.” Ghosh won a gold in shot-put and a silver in discus in Sri Lanka.
Born into a middle-class family, Ghosh’s love for sports didn’t find favour with her family. “My father was a policeman and very orthodox in his views. He beat me up whenever he came to know I had taken part in a sporting event,” said Ghosh, a resident of Shibpur, Howrah. But that couldn’t tame her indomitable spirit and she went on to win several medals in school, college, district and state-level competitions.
It was after marriage that she, encouraged by husband Shankar Ghosh, competed at the national level. But health problems came in the way and kept her off the field for close to a decade.
The mother of an eight-year-old daughter made a comeback at 44 with shot-put and discus throwing in the 25th State Masters Athletics Championship in 2009, winning a gold. She hasn’t looked back since.
It is Ghosh’s fighting spirit and hard work that have got her thus far. She has been training for almost six hours every day for the world meet and she is confident to make India proud if she can overcome the financial hurdle. “All international championships I have taken part in till now used a four-kg ball for the shot-put event. But at the world meet in Brazil, I will be given a three-kg ball. So I hope to be able to throw it some distance more than I did in Taipei. But what if I can’t arrange the money…” she trailed off.