Imagine being billed as one of the most promising talents as early as at the age of 4, only to have met with an unbidden tragedy on the road a year later, which not only took away her father but also confined her physically for the rest of her life.
Recently turned 18, Sia Kashyap from Mangaldoi, Assam, has always wished for a career in dancing, believing that by way of dance she can express her true self. Back then, it was Sanjib Mallik, a dance teacher, who spotted the potential in Sia and motivated her to follow her dreams. Thereafter, she pursued dancing with all her heart and soul while depending on Youtube channels for the moves.
Sia’s mother, her lone parent who works around the clock to make a living for the two, said: “I am so proud of my daughter, with the way she has turned the tide ever since the accident. She can do whatever she feels like with her career, I am always there to support her through thick and thin. She is my lone reason to be alive.”
Since onset, Sia has been a lyrical dancer. With time she is trying to excel the waacking form too.
Finally, when we asked about her dream, she replied with a smile: “I want to inspire people through my dance. In life, we always face unforeseeable hurdles but the way we overcome such situations is what makes the person we are today. With all the struggle that my mother and I had to go through over the years, I am trying my best to bring back the smile back on my mom’s face.”
Often there is so much focus on the fastest athlete in the men’s or boy’s sections, that the women’s or girls’ section gets overshadowed. While Delhi’s Nisar Ahmad was winning the boys 100m in 10.76s, there was also Avantika Narale of Pune grabbing the honours in Girls’ section.
Avantika from Lonkar High School, Pune, bagged gold at the first Khelo India School Games by completing the run in just 12.36 seconds. Avantika spoke highly of her coach and her supportive family and dedicated the medal to them.
A few years ago Avantika was very often seen making quick sprints in her school, and to her credit, she was always considered the fastest among her friends. But kabaddi was her first love before coming to athletics.
After seeing her speed in kabaddi, her physical training teacher, Shivaji Mehta, spotted her potential and urged her register herself in athletics. By the time she reached class 8th, athletics became her top priority. After she shifted to train under coach Sanjay Patankar, there was a marked upturn in her performance. Her academic career, however, took the back seat.
The Pune girl, who wants to visit Disneyland in future, claimed third position in 100m (12.47 seconds) in the 63rd National School Games Athletics Championship held in Bhopal last year. After dealing with mixed reactions for her third place finish, Avantika was determined to upgrade her game. Winning the gold medal in the Khelo India School Games gave her the satisfaction of achieving the goal, making her father proud. Avantika’s ultimate aim is to win an Olympic gold.
For Santosh Narale, her daughter’s performance in the KISG was a moment to cherish. “I am proud of my daughter. She is the best,” he said. He further added that he was expecting gold because she had worked very hard before these games. Talking about his financial problems, Santosh said that he feels upset at times because they cannot afford some of the things that Avantika craves for. But on the lighter note, he said that he will treat Avantika to chicken for her gold medal-winning performance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.