Blog By: Kavitha Iyer.
”My success helped girls of of my village”
For racewalker Khushbir Kaur, who comes from Rasulpur Kalan village near Amritsar where girls couldn’t even step out of their homes without permission, pursuing a career in sports was a challenge. And this was after her father passed away and the family was facing financial crises. She started running in the village and at school, and won prizes. “I had no idea about any coaching or the sport for the longest time. In fact, I didn’t even know what the Olympics was till the time I actually participated in it in 2012.” Life changed for Khushbir when Baldev Singh, a former Asian Championship medallist spotted her and took her under his wing. She then moved on to train under a Russian coach at a senior training national camp in 2011 in Bengaluru, which is where she honed her skills for the Olympics.
But her pillar of support is been her mother. “People in the village didn’t want a girl from their village to wear shorts and a t-shirt in public. But, my mother supported me even though other family members didn’t. Though she wasn’t earning much, she letme pursue sports as my career, and when I went for the Youth Olympics for the first time in 2010, it was also my first international trip. It was surreal and felt really great, like I had achieved something.”
Khushbir says that she can now see a change in the way people from her village are looking at not only female sportspersons, but even women in general. “Now, girls in my village are not married off before the age of 18-20 years old, which wasn’t the case earlier. Also, more and more people have started sending their daughters to school.”
Khushbir starts her day at 4:30 or 5 am with a warm up, followed by a two and a half hour training, including working on her walking technique, running, sand training and hill training. She takes a break at 10 am for a massage and a short nap, before heading to the gym at 12:30 pm till 1:30 pm. This is followed by some leisure time, phone calls and meetings, and she’s back to toiling away at 4:30 pm with continuous running and some basic training. Emphasising the need for mental fitness, she says, “More than being physically fit, you have to be mentally fit. It’s always the mind before the body in sports. It’s crucial to get proper rest. I sleep for a couple of hours during the day as well.”
Keeping her cholesterol problem in mind, she has a light breakfast at 10 am, comprising a slice of two of bread, egg bhurji (two eggs) or a bowl of dalia or cornflakes and bananas. Lunch is at 1:30 pm with dal, boiled vegetables, curd, rice or one chapatti, boiled chicken sans masala, and salad options like beetroot and cucumber. Dinner at 8 or 9 pm and a repetition of the lunch options, without any butter, oil or masala. She also keeps sipping fresh juice throughout the day.
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