Stripped of her medal, Asian Games medallist Santhi Soundarajan turns brick kiln labourer

first_imgFrom a medal winning athlete to a brick kiln worker, that has been the fate of a 2006 Doha Asian Games silver medallist, Santhi Soundarajan. The 800 metre female runner had failed a gender test after winning the medal in Doha and life has been on a downward spiral ever since. Banned by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) from competing at any level, Santhi’s feats were struck off the records. Santhi now survives by working as a daily wager in a brick kiln, slogging it out for eight hours a day to earn Rs 200, a wage paid to a woman labourer. It clearly highlights the failure of the AFI which simply abandoned Santhi. In fact, a similar situation was faced by South African athlete Caster Semenya, who too had failed a similar gender test and had to concede the gold medal she won in Berlin World Championship 2009. However, the South African authorities stood firmly behind the 800 metre runner and finally the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) revoked the ban on her. In fact, Semenya would be her country’s flag-bearer at the London Olympics. IOA chief promises helpAfter media highlighted Santhi’s plight, acting president of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) V.K. Malhotra promised to look into the matter. He, however, remained mum on why nothing was done so far for Santhi. “This is a very shocking news. It did not come to our notice. Had it come to our notice, the government and the IOA would have definitely helped her. We would surely help her,” Malhotra said. “The government has a lot of money for its sportsperson, especially the ones who bring laurels to the country,” he added. Former athletes seek justice for SanthiSanthi’s plight has outraged some Indian sports icons. Former hockey player V. Bhaskaran said, “We had appreciated her when she had won the silver medal in Doha Asiad Games. The federation also gave her a job as a coach. But I guess she started developing a complex and even contemplated suicide.” “She can definitely get a job, because winning in the Doha Games is not a small thing. I am sure the government can help her,” Bhaskaran added. Former athlete Shiny Wilson said, “The present government of Tamil Nadu is providing all help to sportsperson… also paying them good money. She (Santhi) should seek help from them.” Former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi said, “We are very disturbed to hear about this news. It portrays what is happening in sports arena even today. It is very depressing for the present generation.”advertisementlast_img read more

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