“When you represent the Central Railway, they give you a jersey which has Railways written at the back of the jersey. One day, I accidentally wore someone else’s jersey when one of the athletes came to me and told me that I could only wear it if I had won a medal. After that day I was determined to get this jersey. But I never imagined that one day I would be wearing representing our country and be wearing the Jersey with the Indian Flag on it.”
My journey has been like a rollercoaster ride. Recently a lot people told me that I can’t pursue my career anymore because I was growing old, it got me thinking that I had broken many records, won medals, worked hard every day to achieve something big. I decided that I am not going to back down at any cost, and my journey will continue.
Sudha Singh, 33 from Rae Bareli conferred with the Arjuna award, Participant of the Olympic games and winner of several medals from tournaments likes Asian Championship, Asian games and other international championships shares her journey with us.
She started her athletic career with sports in 1999. She played at the regional and district level and always bagged medals for it. She tells us that back then very few people has any interest in anything apart from academics. During my school days my teachers told me that I won’t be able to pass my exams and that I would fail in them but I eventually cleared it. Even after that I couldn’t focus on academics. Soon after my 10th grade, I attempted trials for a track event in Agra and qualified and started living in the Sports Hostel. I won State Championship in 800 meters which is when I started to really take an interest in sports. I didn’t have any past experience of leaving my parents and staying on my own so I couldn’t cope up with the hostel life and shifted back to my town. I got back to academics and regular house chores but I couldn’t concentrate. I got lucky when I found out that trials were happening closer to my town in Lucknow, it was happened that I qualified and eventually reached the Nationals.
My victory got me a job in the Central Railway and I moved to Mumbai in 2005. The city was so big that managing everything became difficult for me. I didn’t play sports for a whole year at least and it was only when the Railways informed me that to keep the job, I had to continue winning. I needed to up my game and start with the sports once again. To be on the team you need to score points and be in the top 3. I started with my practice and it took me awhile to find an event because all the good ones often went to my seniors. In 2006 is when I got my first event representing the Central Railway. It was a 3000 meters Steeplechase event. I saw water and I thought to myself that I won’t be able to do it. The Railway authorities forced me to do it and I had to do it to secure my job. I came in 3rd and maintained my top 3rd position, this position finally secured my job.
I often played Track events, I wanted to play Steeplechase and for that I needed more practice. My schedule was so tight with practice, the job and trials but I managed. As part of my practice routine I used to do long jumps on the sand so that I can participate in Water Jump too.
My journey has been eventful, I broke my own record and I broke the national record too and won a gold medal. I got selected for the National Sports Camp in 2009 and from there I went on to participate in Asian Games, Asian Championship, World Championship and Olympics in the year 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2014. I got Arjuna Award in the year 2012 for my achievements in sports. I continued and in 2018 I bagged the first place in the Mumbai Marathon then in Jakarta I got silver medal for the championship and my journey continues.
My family always supported me and helped me to pursue my dream. There is an obvious difference when I started and the situation now. These days people start at very young age and they are not forced to be doctors or engineers anymore. We have more sports camps than any other country. We should also go to every Village in India and find hidden talents. The facilities of our country are improving, now every athlete has to focus on their game. Sports Ministry should also give reservations to athletes in order to keep them motivated and help them concentrate on their game. People like Lalita Babbar, Kavita Raut are at a position which is possible through sports and not entirely academics. Sports is becoming bigger every year and India’s hidden talent is being discovered.
Message for all the Athletes
Everyone has a journey which is not going to be exactly how it was planned. I faced many hardships since the very beginning and I got through them by believing in myself. You have to be disciplined, determined and firm to succeed and in your journey, always have faith in your coach/mentor in order to achieve everything, be positive and give your one hundred percent.
What do other countries do that Indian does not ?
The other countries start preparing their athletes at a young age of six or seven.For them sport’s is more than just a competition. In India half of the athletes start after their 10th standard, which is too late if one has to win at Olympics.The Indian athletes have to work and study, it becomes difficult to manage both. By the time an Indian athlete reaches a good stage in his/her career they are too old to compete.
How are our facilities as compared to others ?
I don’t think any country has as many camps as India. Ministry of Sports, Sports Authority of India and AFI are all giving their assistance and support.
Any changes in the diet over the years?
There are so many changes in the diet, earlier there were one or two salads to choose from ,now there are six or Seven salads served. Everything is improving, even facilities have changed as compared to what they were when I started. Now it time for the Athletes to perform.
How do you think India can win a medal at the Olympics?
Planning is need of the hour as I mentioned earlier we need to Start early. We need to think 8 years ahead only then we will be able to get medals at the Olympics. We need to go to every village and look for talented athletes. The panchayat should be told to keep competitions so that the best athletes can be selected from their respective villages In the villages hardly anyone knows about Khelo India, organising potential more .
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