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Mom’s madua roti powers her speed

State’s newly minted golden girl swears by millet magic

Jayesh Thaker Ranchi Published 08.06.19, 07:00 PM
Florence Barla at Tana Bhagat Indoor Stadium in Hotwar, Ranchi, on Saturday.

Florence Barla at Tana Bhagat Indoor Stadium in Hotwar, Ranchi, on Saturday. Picture by Manob Chowdhary

Sprinter Florence Barla, back in Ranchi with two gold medals from Kazakhstan, is anxious go home to her Gumla village for her mother’s rotis.

It’s not just about ghar ka khana. The 18-year-old sprinter, who trains as a cadet of Jharkhand State Sports Promotion Society (JSSPS) in Hotwar, feels that the rotis made out of madua (ragi or millet) flour that they eat at home have given her the stamina needed as an athlete.


Florence, who slotted home two gold medals in 400m individual (54.73 seconds) and 4x400m mixed relay (3:30.58 seconds) while making her overseas debut at the International Invitational Athletics Championship (Under-20 Eurasian Athletics Championships) in Kazakhstan last month, said her widowed mother Rojila made rotis and also a kind of pastry out of madua flour, commonly eaten by tribals in villages.

“I am eager have madua rotis again made by my mother. I have been having it since my days at my village Nawadih (in Gumla). I seldom get tired while running. Full credit to madua,” Florence said before her felicitation by CCL CMD Gopal Singh at Harivansh Tana Bhagat Indoor Stadium at Mega Sports Complex in Hotwar on Saturday morning.

Food experts agree with tribals such as Florence’s mother on the benefits of madua. The flour strengthens immunity, bones and muscles. It also reduces the risk of diabetes as its high fibre content leads to steady digestion and releases sugar in blood at a regular pace.

Singh presented running shoes and a sports kit to Florence.

The talented sprinter, who joined JSSPS last year, said she ate non-vegetarian food such as mutton, chicken and fish four days a week at her training centre but they were no substitute for madua.

Florence idolises Assam sprinter Hima Das, nicknamed Dhing Express, who won the silver at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and holds the national record for 400m at 50.79 seconds.

“Right now, my focus is on reducing my timing. I train for three hours in the morning from 5am and again for an hour from 5pm. Running comes naturally to me,” she said.

On how she relaxes, Florence said she watches sports channels on TV on Saturdays and Sundays. “Relaxing the body and mind is very important. But my body is tuned to hard work. I don’t skip training sessions,” the standard XII student of DAV Nandraj School said.

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