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Posted at: Jul 5, 2016, 1:24 AM; last updated: Jul 5, 2016, 1:24 AM (IST)

This Bhiwani sprinter’s journey to Rio was challenging

This Bhiwani sprinter’s journey to Rio was challenging
Nirmala Sheoran of Chehad Khurd village qualified for Rio Olympics in 400-m race. tribune photo

Sat Singh

Tribune News Service

Bhiwani, July 4

Nirmala Sheoran of the district’s Chehad Khurd village is seen as a medal hopeful for the country in Rio Olympics in the 400-metre race. She is getting all the attention these days but, during the days of her struggle, she and her family were mocked.

Why? When Nirmala (21) went for practice, villagers ridiculed the family for being unnecessarily generous on a girl.

“I know that Nirmala had in her to make it big, but people’s narrow mindset made things difficult for us,” her father, Suresh Sheoran, says. He was a district-level wrestler and kabbadi player.

Braving people’s taunts was one part of the struggle. The other struggle was irregular income; the family is dependent on agriculture for income.

“Nirmala’s practice demanded regular flow of money for sports equipment and diet,” Suresh says. He arranged money on credit from villagers to let his one of the five children pursue her dream.

“I am Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh in debt. There has been no financial support from any quarter. I am thankful that she proved her mettle,” he adds.

On how she got initiated into sports, Nirmala tells The Tribune, “I won first prizes in racing competitions in school. That motivated me to become an international sprinter like the legendary PT Usha.”

She said that due to paucity of money, she had to change her college during graduation twice.

“Every difficulty made me stronger from inside. In spite of monetary challenges, I did not lose hope. And the result is for all to see,” she says.

Her coach, Vijender Singh, is hopeful of Nirmala winning a medal at Rio. “No matter the tough competitors from foreign countries, she is the best bet for India in the 400-metre race,” he says.

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