Gold medalists with school officials at Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Hotwar on Tuesday. (Prashant Mitra)
It’s her dream to become a household name in sports one day, and she has already taken the first step by clinching gold in long jump.
Meet budding athlete Rani Baski (17), a Class XII student of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in Seraikela, who could not hide her elation as she said: “This is my first gold medal for which I had to work hard without any sports facilities in our school.”
A farmer’s daughter, Rani started practising a month ago to participate in the three-day Jawahwar Navodyaya Vidalaya (JNV) national level athletics meet which concluded at Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Hotwar on Tuesday.
“Hum logon ki padhai ho ja rahi hain, wo bahut hain, kyonki khel-kud mein koi suvidha nahi hain,” she added. Like Rani, another budding athlete, Dera Supriya Hansda (16), a tenth grader of JNV-Pakur, could not hold her tears as she bagged gold in javelin throw.
“It was only when I took admission in JNV that my aptitude for sports became obvious. We do not have any facilities, as we hardly devote any time to practice due to academics,” Hansda said, adding that they only start practising when an event is announced.
According to JNV officials, 80 budding athletes from Jharkhand participated in the national level meet. They won 11 gold medals, 15 silvers and 15 bronzes.
Students of JNV-Hyderabad were declared overall champions with 22 golds, 29 silvers and 22 bronze, followed by JNV-Jaipur with 20 golds, seven silvers and 17 bronze.
Akhil Kumar Shukla, deputy commissioner of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti’s regional office in Patna, admitted that the lack of trained and qualified sports teachers and adequate coaching had affected performance of the Jharkhand students.
“We are trying our best to provide sports facilities and special coaching for the students of JNV schools,” he said.
M.A.S. Khan, a coach of JNV-Dumka said said it was difficult to coach the students. “We need special training, if we wish to see our students compete at the national level. Those who bagged gold had the passion to excel in sports since childhood. They used to practice for hours and that too without proper diet, which is important.”
A few medal winners appeared disheartened even after winning gold. “Athletes from other regions like Hyderabad and Jaipur looked strong. When we interacted with them they revealed that prior to the national meet they were provided special coaching and also major emphasis was laid on diet, which we do not get in Jharkhand,” rued Birendra Oraon, a student of JNV-Gumla, who won gold in the 1,500 metre.
Though students from districts fared well, JNV-Ranchi failed to win any golds. “None of our students could win gold,” said principal P.S. Bara.