Santhi Soundarajan: Unremembered Saga

Blog by Raj Kishan..

The crowd was shouting her name. Everybody wanted to congratulate her. Every Indian was proud of her. Rewards were announced for her. She was showcasing her silver medal. But then everything was lost!

We are talking about Santhi Soundarajan (also spelled Shanthi). She is an Indian track and field athlete (running in middle distance races of 800m and 1500m). She won 12 international medals for India and around 50 medals for her home state Tamil Nadu. She stood as the pride of India, but then tragedy struck her; struck her real bad!

Santhi Soundaranjan was born in Kathakkurichi village in the Pudukkottai District of Tamil Nadu, on 17 April 1981.  She had a very difficult childhood. She lived in a hut with her 4 other siblings. Her father and mother used to work in a brickyard in another town, making about 300-400 Rupees a week. Her grandfather, an experienced runner, paved her way into running. When she was 13, he taught her to run on an open stretch of dirt outside the hut and bought her a pair of shoes.

She overcame malnutrition as a child to be a winner. She won many trophies in her school days. They she got a scholarship from an Arts college in Pudukkottai, the following year, Soundarajan transferred to a college in Chennai.

She took it to next level in 2003; winning 1Gold in 5000m, silver in 800m and bronze in 400m in the International Peace Sports Festival. Then the following year she won 2 silver medals in 2004 Asian Grand Prix. Then the following year she traded up; winning 2 gold medals (400mx4 relay and 800m) in Asian indoor games, Bangkok, 2005. In 2005, she also won a silver medal in 800m race in Asian Athletics Championships.

Then it was 2006. It was a turning point in the then young athlete’s life. It started out great; she won 2 gold medals and a silver medal at South Asian Games, Colombo. Stage was all set for Asian Games 2006, Doha. All eyes were on Santhi, India was dying to see a woman runner win a medal in over 22 years. Well, it did come true.  In the 800 meters, Soundarajan took the silver in 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds, beating Viktoriya Yalovtseva of Kazakhstan by 0.03 seconds. Those two minutes proved to be the longest two minutes for her life. What embarked was the greatest betrayal of her life, reality betrayed her.

Santhi was stripped of her silver pride on account of a gender test which she failed; Her DNA had chromosome-combo which made her not female enough to compete as a woman in athletic events. Reports initially suggested that her upbringing in impoverished rural India, where she reportedly only started eating proper meals in 2004, could be a factor behind the test result. She was raised a woman. It wasn’t her fault that she did not get favourable living conditions.

The series of unfortunate events rolled ahead. People, who were praising her, now shunned her. Money awarded was taken away. All hopes seemed diminished. She had to go back to live in the hut she grew in. She tried to take her own life. “I was shattered by the failed test, the Athletics Federation of India did not support me, did not fight my cause. I was hoping they would. I was depressed. I felt like I had lost everything. It still hurts. I loved the sport so much. My dream broken, I attempted suicide.” Nobody was there for her.

Some help came her way, later on. In January 2007, the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi awarded Soundarajan a television set and cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh for her Doha Games effort, despite the fallout of Soundarajan failing a gender test. She used that money to train students for free.

She struggled and struggled a lot. She was told she could never participate in any sports events. But she never gave up trying. In 2015, Madras High Court directed the State government to consider Soundarajan’s plea for relaxation in educational qualifications and help her become a coach at the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. In 2016, State government decided to appoint her as a permanent athletic coach under Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. And finally after a long fought war, which stalled for over a decade, Soundarajan received her appointment order for a permanent athletic coach under SDAT on 20 December 2016.

In 2016, she was awarded with Young Inspirational Women Leader Award, for her contributions towards increasing the participation of young Tamil girls in Athletics. And in 2017, she got the Living Pheonix award conferred on her for Santhi’s remarkable contributions in the field of Athletics.

Soundarajan says, “I have short hair. I dress like a man. So I must be man. No. I am Santhi Soundarajan and I am a woman.”santhi

Some stories are hard to listen. This is one of those stories. She fell, fell into deep ends but rose again, she is indeed a living Pheonix. We must always remember her. We salute you!

The “run” way life-Shibani Gharat

Blog By-Pooja Seth

“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise”
Today the woman about which you are going to read will compell you to break your chains and live the life of your dreams.She is Shibani Gharat.Shibani Gharat first started running in college, It was her warm-up for taekwondo classes.But now running plays a key part in her life.Her morning begins with a 20km run ,Have I mentioned that she is also a journalist .Yes! you read it right.Ms. Gharat is also a journalist and also manages to run marathons and practices running.She has always been an advocate of fitness.
When she chose running it was mainly because it was easy and just needed a pair of shoes. She participated in Mumbai Ultra-marathon and completed it.On Sunday, September 14, Shibani Gharat, one of India’s youngest women ultra runners, became the first non-Ladakhi woman to attempt an ultra marathon that had her meet with the Khardung La.
The toughest challenge she has faced is the ultra marathon at Leh and being a non Ladhaki woman it was very challenging with her but she passed it with flying colours.The Khardung Challenge is one of the toughest challenges as you have to run up almost 18,400 feet in the middle of the world’s most rugged land.
She prepared for it by running much on the hills of Mumbai but nothing could be done to much to prepare for Leh as the conditions there are very different.Apart from being oxygen deficit , the weather is also very challenging.
Shibani exclaims that no matter how much difficulties she had to face, the satisfaction that dawns after completing it is worth it.
Here are some tips she shares for a marathon:
1.Reach the venue early!
2.Make an achievable target.
3.Mentally divide the race distance into smaller distances.Divide and conquer!
4.Hydrate your self well.
5.Carry your own hydration.
5.Do not break momentum while stopping at the water station.
6.Do not trt something new be it your socks,shoes,tshirt.shorts.
everything should be worn which is used on regular basis.
If you also want to know how you can start running .Here are some words from her-
1.The first and the foremost is to warm up.It helps reduce muscle damage.
2.First break into a brisk walk and then convert it into a walk.
3.Keep your pace slow.

“If you want to see more such stories you can click on the link https://www.bfysportsnfitness.com/.”
She actively participates in various marathons and you can see her instagram profile to keep up beat with her.She also has a you tube channel with her name.
According to her independence is very important for a women, and every women should aim for being indepenent in every aspect of life.There are times when your body and mind will want to give up but that is the time when you have to motivate yourself and push yourself further.
Every new accomplishment requires you to grow from your current stage and push your limits.
You have to believe in yourself and have confidence and always follow your passion.Running helped her discover that one can achieve anything if the whole mind is put .

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Navjot Kaur: Wrestled to Gold

Blog by Raj Kishan..

Take pride in how far you have come, have faith in how far you can go. Just keep believing in yourself. And that is what Navjot Kaur will teach you. Navjot kaur is an Indian wrestler, wrestling in the freestyle category. The ace wrestler Navjot Kaur scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal in the Senior Asian Championships as she clinched the shining metal in the 65kg freestyle category in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Navjot, 28, was born in Tarn Taran in Punjab on 10 February, 1990. She was encouraged to take up wrestling at an early age by her school teachers, mostly so because of her physique. Her father, pushed her and her elder sister, Navjeet singh, and supported them thoroughly to wrestle, even when fellow villagers were against the idea of girls entering a male dominated sport. Later, the 28-year-old was enrolled at the Khalsa School Sports Club in her hometown to pursue wrestling.

Navjot announced herself at the international stage with Asian Junior Championships in Manila, Philippines, in which she finished with gold in the 67kg category. In the same year, she bagged a bronze at the World Juniors.

Her first senior medal came in 2011 Asian Wrestling Championships, where she won bronze in 67kg category. And two years later she won bronze at the Wrestling World Cup. She won silver at Asian Championship in 2013. Though her most celebrated victory came in Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014, where she clinched a bronze medal in the 69kg category.

 There was a major setback waiting; Navjot suffered a waist injury, in 2014, which left her out of the game for two years. With her, her family had to see tough times. Nobody was there to help, not people and not the government. Her father bore the entire expense of her treatment and we also borrowed money. Her father has run up a debt of Rs 13 lakh. Her younger brother, Yuvraj, 23, an aspiring cricketer also gave up his dream and started to help his father in the farm so that they could support Navjot. And after the injury it took a long rehabilitation process before she could get back to winning form.

There was another hiccup in her path, on December 30, 2017; Kaur endured one of the lowest points of her career when she was beaten in the selection trials for the Indian Commonwealth Games squad. She had severe back strain before the trials. So, she won’t be a part of Commonwealth Games, 2018.

But the Asian Gold medal was worth all the pain. She had a mixed group stage; lost to Imai 4-4 and won against Uzbekistan’s Baltaniyazova Bakhtigul 10-0 in her group to make it to the semifinal.  Then she beat Mongolian Enkhbayar Tsevegmed 2-1 in the semi final. But the final was all about Navjot; She got the better of Japan’s Myu Imai by 9-1 in a one sided affair to clinch the historic Gold.

She dedicates her victory to her elder sister and her father. Navjot Kaur burst into tears as Coach Kuldeep Malik rushed to envelop her with the Indian flag and hoisted her atop his shoulders after the win. “I had nothing to lose and I was finally wrestling without fear,” she said after creating history.

She works as a clerk in Indian Railways. But she certainly deserves more, as stated by her sister, Navjeet, “the government should treat all athletes equally. A woman cricketer is made DSP while an international wrestler who won a medal is a clerk. This is not parity.”

“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.” We hope this is just the beginning for Navjot and her determination and hard work inspires many others to go for the gold.

Aruna Budda Reddy: One for the History Books

Blog by: Raj Kishan..

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” And my friends, that unquenchable faith combined with unparalleled hard work has given a new name to the history books, to India, to the world, to the world of gymnastics; Aruna Budda Reddy.

Aruna Budda Reddy, born on December 22, 1995, a former black belt and a Karate trainer, has created history by clinching a historic bronze medal in vault at the Gymnastics World Cup 2018 held in Melbourne. Aruna is now the first and the only Indian to have won a medal in the World Cup. Dipa Karmakar, who finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics in women’s vault event, has won a bronze each in the Asian Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games but not at the level of a World Cup.

Aruna, who hails from Hyderabad, averaged a score of 13.649 at the Hisense Arena to finish third. Tjasa Kysslef of Slovenia won the gold with a score of 13.800 while Emily Whitehead of Australia took the silver with 13.699.

Aruna’s father enrolled her in an academy in Hyderabad when she was just eight years old and that is how her relationship with sports began. It might have been different, had her father not nudged her towards the sport. Aruna didn’t liked gymnastics at first but his father encouraged her for the sport, he always told her, how good she was at gymnastics. In 2010 he died of cardiac arrest.

Aruna dedicates her medal win to her father, “I owe everything to him and if he’d been alive and seen me on the podium today, he’d have been so happy. He was there in my days of struggle, but couldn’t watch me win.” She told The Indian Express.

The Vault has previously been made famous by Dipa Karmakar, who is not participating this year owing to a knee injury. But she was quick to congratulate Aruna. She wrote on her Twitter account, “So proud of you Aruna!! Congratulations on your outstanding achievement!” On her relation with Dipa, Aruna says, “We have been training together since 2011. We are not rivals and can’t be. We are each other’s support system during training and competition time” Indian gymnastics has been synonyms to Dipa, but now people, we have Aruna as well!

Aruna has been part of Indian team since 2013. She had earlier taken part in the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2014 Asian Games and 2017 Asian Championships. Her previous best finish had been sixth in the vault event at the 2017 Asian Championships. In all the other international events, she could not go beyond the qualification stage. This was Aruna’s first international medal. First of many more to come, we wish, we hope, we pray!

Aruna finished seventh in the final round of women’s floor event in Melbourne. Later this year she will participate in the 2018 Commonwealth games.

Aruna has become an inspiration to every young girl out there. Take note of her story, there will be obstacles but remember; greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. So, just like Aruna, leap forward and you will achieve what you desire. You go girl!

Mariyappan Thangavelu: A champion against all odds

Blog by: Raj Kishan..

It doesn’t matter what odds are on paper or what has happened all your life, what matters is what happens that very moment. A winner is always born against all odds. Mariyappan Thangavelu is that winner!

Mariyappan Thangavelu (born 28th June, 1995) is Paralympics high jumper, who comes from Tamil Nadu. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympics games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men’s high jump T-42 category, winning the gold medal in the finals. He is India’s first Paralympian gold medallist since 2004. Mariyappan is a prime example of a true winner, who rose up against all the odds and beat all the tough situations of childhood.

Speaking of tough, Mariyappan comes from a very poor family, his father abandon him and his 5 siblings early on. His mother took care of the family; firstly working as a labourer and then becoming a vegetable seller, earning not more than ₹100. As if it wasn’t already tough, when Mariyappan was just five, he was run over by a drunken bus driver; the bus crushed his right leg below the knee, causing it to become stunted, leaving a permanent disability.

Despite the setback, Mariyappan, continued and completed his schooling. It was his Physical Education teacher who 1st saw his skills in high jump and motivated him to move forward in this sport. Later, coach Satyanarayana saw Thangavelu at the 2013 National Para-Athletics Championship and brought him to Bengaluru for training.

In March 2016, Mariyappan cleared a distance of 1.78m in the men’s high jump T42 event at the IPC Grand prix in Tunisia, qualifying him for the Rio Paralympics. Then came the gold. “When I cleared the bar, I was thrilled that I had won a gold medal for India… I was confident that I could clear that height even before I began the attempt. I had gone in with the determination that I would come back with a gold medal,” said a jubilant and confident Mariyappan. The 21-year-old high jumper made history with his 1.89m jump. According, to his coach, Satyanarayana, he had never leaped that high before. “I thought that he would only get the silver and I should be happy.” However, not only did Mariyappan clear that height, he also narrowly missed clearing the height of 1.92m. Now, Mariyappan and his coach are preparing to break the world record of 1.96m, set by Arnold Boldt at the 1980 Arnhem Paralympics.

For the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics

  • Padma Shri (2017) – fourth highest Indian national honour
  • Arjuna Award (2017) – second highest Indian sporting honour, including a cash award of ₹5 lakh
  • ₹2 crore from the Government of Tamil Nadu
  • ₹75 lakh from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports[
  • ₹50 lakh from the Government of Madhya Pradesh
  • ₹30 lakh from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • ₹15 lakh from fund established by Sachin Tendulkar, various corporations
  • ₹10 lakh from Yash Raj Films
  • ₹10 lakh from the Delhi Golf Club
  • ₹5 lakh from NRI businessman Mukkattu Sebastian

Despite winning the award, however, it was noticed that the young sportsman had other things on his mind that he wished to sort out. According to a report in the DailyMail, Mariyappan has been unemployed for over a period of one year since his return from Rio. Having lived off the money that he earned from the Rio games, he now wishes for nothing more than a steady job to look after his family.

Tamil film director Aishwaryaa Dhanush is making a film about this life and achievements titled ‘Mariyappan.’ He says that hopefully his story will inspire many others. Indeed it will. So, in the end, just beat the odds because you all are above them!

 

Bhakti Sharma- Conquering the seas!

Blog by – Mahika Bhardwaj

Bhakti Sharma- Conquering the seas instead of swimming pools.

At an age where all of us are bothered about eating and walking, Bhakti Sharma, an Indian open water swimmer, had begun swimming at that age,2 years old. The youngest and second swimmer in the world to swim in the four oceans, is all of 28 years of age. She was born in Mumbai and brought up in Udaipur and has done her postgraduate course from Bangalore.

Image source-  2.bp.blogspot.com

Her swimming journey begun with her winning various accolades at district and state level competitions which made her mother encourage her to try open water swimming. This led to her swimming from Uran port to the Gateway of India, a 16 km swim, in 2003.

Know more about us at http://www.bfysportsnfitness.com 

Adding to her list of victories, she went on to swim the four oceans- Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic covering eight different water bodies. She individually crossed the English channel in 2006 in 13 hours 55 minutes at the mere age of 16.  Her list also includes, the only mother-daughter duo to have even swum across the English Channel, in 2008.  She also won the Lake Zurich swim in 2006, swam 25 km in the 2007 USA Swimming Open Water Championships in Florida, won a gold medal in Marathon swim around the Key West Island, Atlantic Ocean. That made her the first Asian swimmer to participate in three major American Swimming events. In 2015, she became the youngest person in the world to swim in the Antarctic ocean for 2.28 km in 41.14 minutes.

Image source- cloudfront.net

This led to her getting invited to speak at various events at IIT Kanpur, TEDx Udaipur, SIBM-Bangalore, NMIMS amongst other ones.  In 2012, she received the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award from the President, Pranab Mukherjee for all her achievements.

Image source- betterindia.com

Her journey from a person swimming in pools to open water swimming was not easy and she went through hard times that almost made her gave up but she still did not. She went on swimming for her country despite all odds and has an aim of winning a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan. Let us wish hope that our country fully supports her, BFY wishes you luck!

Know more about us at http://www.bfysportsnfitness.com 

BFY provides training for Personal Trainers and courses in Sports nutrition and Diet in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gurgaon.

BFY also provides Placements Services in India.

 

Deepika Mehta- The Vogue Woman #FitWomenSeries

By Niyathi Rao

Featured in the famous Vogue Magazine as one of the 3 women redefining beauty ideals in India, Deepika Mehta is a well-known yoga teacher and fitness expert. She has trained a lot of celebrities including movie stars, top industrialists, and models. She is an authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and a certified professional from the ACE (American Council on Exercise). Her inspiring journey and dedication towards fitness are simply unparalleled.

In 1997, a near death rock climbing accident had the doctors tell Deepika Mehta that she would never walk again. Not one to allow obstacles to deter her spirit and enthusiasm for life, she sought after alternative approaches and found the age old Indian discipline of Yoga. Practicing meditation and pranayama, Deepika then dove herself deep into years of education and practice and seeking alternative healing techniques. She initially went to the Sivananda Yoga Kendra in Kerala, where she did her Teacher Training. From there she was led to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga and to meeting her Guru,Shri K Pattabhi Jois in 2002.

Know more about us at http://www.bfysportsnfitness.com 

Now a well known yoga teacher and professional fitness expert, Deepika lives in Mumbai, India where she teaches regular classes in Bandra. She also has clients (individuals and corporates) all over the country. She helps them achieve ultimate mind and body experiences with Ashtanga Yoga, diet and lifestyle advice, and has helped them arrive at their goals.

Know more about us at http://www.bfysportsnfitness.com 

BFY provides training for Personal Trainers and courses in Sports nutrition and Diet in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Gurgaon.

BFY also provides Placements Services in India.