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Race for survival after glorious win

- Sprinter clocks record at Ranchi meet but faces steep hurdles ahead for want of allowance

A record victory in Ranchi was not enough to assure a sprinter a bright future.

Gloria Tudu (13), daughter of a daily wage earner at Sahebganj in Jharkhand, set a new record at the Sub-Junior National Inter-District Athletics meet in Ranchi on Sunday by clocking 100 metres in 13.17 seconds.

The previous record was set at 13.30 seconds a decade back.

Sports lovers are, however, doubtful on how the Class IX student would fulfil her dream of becoming a national champion considering her weak financial background.

Gloria, a student of St Michael’s School, Gokhla Mission in Pirpainty, took part in the meet, which was conducted by the Athletics Federation of India in Ranchi from January 17-19. She broke the decade-old record in the Under-14 girls’ category on Sunday.

“She created a record by finishing 100 metres in 13.17 seconds beating the 13.30 seconds record. We are happy that we witnessed such a feat,” said Gloria’s coach Rajiv Lochan.

The national record for the Under-14 girls’ category stands at 12.99 seconds clocked by S. Lithiya of Tamil Nadu.

People associated with the sprinter believe that there is a strong need to nurture the girl for the nationals and the government should support her ambitions. Lochan and Gloria were returning to Bhagalpur in Vananchal Express at the time of filing the report.

Gloria’s father Abraham Tudu has been fighting poverty since her birth. Abraham works at a nearby stone-crusher unit in Sahebganj and manages to arrange two square meals for his family.

“Gloria, the eldest sister among her five siblings, tasted her first victory in 2009 when she emerged champion in the senior section sports meet at her school. The surprise was she was still in the junior section,” said Sister Lucia, the principal of St Michael’s.

Gloria was then enlisted in Eklavya, a state government-sponsored unit responsible for the uplift of rural talents in sports. The unit was based in the school.

During her journey to Bhagalpur, Gloria said: “I just want to run faster and faster to make my school, coach, Eklavya and everyone who continue to support me, feel proud.

On how much support she gets, a sportsman associated with her training said: “Rs 100 everyday for food and refreshment from Eklavya.”

The state government provides Rs 3,000 per month for a trainee at Eklavya, which is insufficient for a healthy diet for a sportsman.

Secretary of the district athletics association, Nasar Alam said: “The government should be more careful towards Gloria because she could create history. Such athletes need proper training and a good diet.”

However, Gloria can always take a cue from P.T. Usha, who was born in a poor family in Kozhikode. As a young girl, Usha had to face ill health and poverty.

But she had an aptitude for sports which came in handy and won her a scholarship worth Rs 250 per month from the state government, which entitled her to study at sports school in Kannur.