Owing to official apathy, the career of a young Olympic bronze medal winner has virtually ended before it began. This shocking tale is of Sita Sahu, a 15 year old mentally challenged teenager from Rewa who had done the country proud by winning two bronze medals at the 2011 Athens special Olympic. The athlete now sells ‘gol gappas’ along with her mother to meet the daily needs of the family. This after neglect on part of the sports authority forced the talented athlete to sacrifice her budding career.
Sita’s life has been a fairy tale. She first got the opportunity to meet the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh along with seven other kids on June 8, 2011 after she was selected for the Athens special Olympic. The next moment of glory came when she returned home on July 6th after winning two bronze medals in the event.
Sajid Masood, her coach for the event recalls as to how he saw a shy village girl turn into a confident budding teenager during the course of the event. She not only learned to remain in the best of her form but also started interacting with other participants from different nations.
State Government was also not behind in showering praises and announcing rewards for the athlete. As per directives of Social Justice Minister in the state Government, each of the gold medallist was to receive Rs one lakh in cash, the silver medallist was entitled for Rs 75,000 and the bronze medallist was to get Rs 50,000 each. Sita had won two bronze medals and was to receive Rs one lakh cash award.
However, Sajid Masood laments that nothing came her way despite several reminders to the Chief Minister’s office. This despite the fact that Shiv Raj Chauhan announced a series of rewards for Olympic winner Susheel Kumar from Haryana.
Kiran Sahu, the mother of Sita has however taken things in her stride. She however feels cheated that the Government promised the moon to her daughter but failed to deliver. Kiran says she had no option but to equip her daughter with skills that would help them earn a living. The family is doing what they have been trained best for, selling ‘gol gappas ‘and trying to make a living.
Usha Sahu, the teacher who spotted Sita’s talent too is disturbed by the turn of events. She said that she felt helpless to see such a talent going down the drain. It was Usha who spotted Sita’s skills and encouraged her to participate in state and national level events.
Convincing Sita’s parents was also not easy. Usha had to explain to them the significance of the event and the changes the sporting competition will bring in Sita’s life. However, mere promises and no action from the State Government has left Usha speechless too.
It is a sad reality though that various state and central agencies spend millions on nurturing some select sports person but fail to honour those who have risen from the ground. Sita Sahu is a perfect example of this.