Bagging a Gold has changed the mind-set of my orthodox villagers, says Seema

 Bagging a Gold has changed the mind-set of my orthodox villagers, says Seema

Team L&M

It has been more than a decade since Seema first stepped out of her village Reta in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh to compete in local school sports competition. There was opposition as village elders were unhappy that a school going girl was competing in sports.

But Seema and her family didn’t pay heed and recently, the 22-year-old showcased her prowess by clinching the women’s 10,000m Gold in the 37th National Games at the Bambolim stadium here.

“When I started athletics, orthodox people in the village objected that I shouldn’t go out of the village. But my late father supported me,” said Seema, recalling the challenges she faced in the initial years.

Things only got worse when her father passed away in 2012, leaving behind a family of six siblings including three sisters. Seema is the youngest and all her siblings rallied behind her as she pursued her passion for running.

In 2015, Seema was selected under the Sports Authority of India (SAI) scheme to train in Dharamshala and it fast-tracked her journey to national competitions. Her improved performance meant that she was enrolled in the Khelo India scheme in 2018 and started getting a monthly scholarship of Rs 10,000. “It was a big support to me,” she added.

It also helped that she got a job in the banking sector in Himachal Pradesh under the sports quota, giving her financial stability to focus on her career as she also gets cash incentives for winning medals at the national level.

Since graduating to the senior circuit a year ago, Seema has participated in four domestic 10,000m races and won three of them while bagging a silver in the fourth. The National Games gold was the icing on the cake.

But more than her triumphs on the field, Seema is happy that her success has changed the perception of villagers and they are now more open in allowing girls to explore their passion.

“Since I started winning medals at the junior national level things have changed. Young girls from my village are following sports. They are also going to nearby cities for higher studies,” she added.

On the personal front, Seema is now looking to make the Indian team for international competitions and wants to work on her physical conditions to achieve that goal. “I need to be super fit to make a big impression next year,” she added.


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