Sometimes, all one needs is a gentle nudge at the right moment to stumble upon the greatness they’re destined to achieve. The tales of success are often wreathed around that one string of support, which helps an individual blossom into their optimum capacity. Such is the story of Kusum, Rajini and Mamata Saket, three 16 year olds, who found their life’s calling in Athletics and now consider the sport an adjunct to their identity.
It was in 2016 that the three girls, studying in a government school in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, found out about the Rural Sports Meet being held at NTPC Vindhyachal. Hailing from households of humble means, with their parents earning an honest living as daily-wage labourers, the girls tip-toed around the idea of participating in the sports meet. With unsure steps, the girls made their way to the Ambedkar Stadium in the NTPC Vindhyachal township to attend the meet, which witnessed participation from 24 government schools. Recognising the grit and determination which reflected in their performance, NTPC Vindhyachal selected the three girls, along with 67 other students to attend the Athletics Coaching Camp, and there was no looking back.
Taken in by the thrill of Athletics, the girls attended the coaching camp, organised by NTPC Vindhyachal year after year, to work on their skills and polish the finer points of the sport. Practicing under the bravura guidance of expert coaches hailing from National Institute of Sports and Singrauli District Athletics Association for three years, the girls left no stone unturned in their efforts. Unfazed by all hurdles that crossed their paths, the girls persevered, practiced day and night and devoted themselves to the sport. In this endearing journey, NTPC Vindhyachal held their hand at every step of the way. Right from taking care of the nutritional needs of the budding sports champions and providing them with the right sports gear, to facilitating their ease of movement by getting them bicycles, NTPC Vindhyachal functioned as the invisible hand supporting the girls in their pursuit of excellence.
The girls, who once hesitated in stepping outside their comfort zones, have now toured across the country to participate in a slew of district, state, regional and national level Athletics competitions. Kusum Saket has a total of 17 Golds, 4 Silvers and 1 Bronze to her credit. She bagged 2 Golds and 1 Silver in the Regional Athletics Competitions organised for the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh by the Vidya Bharti Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Sansthan, affiliated with the School Games Federation of India (SGFI). She also bagged 5 Golds in the state level Athletics competition. In a similar suit, Rajini Saket bagged 1 Gold, 1 Bronze and 1 Silver in the regional level Athletics competition, while securing 4 Golds in the state-level competitions. Mamata Saket secured 1 Gold and 1 Silver to her name in the regional level competition, while bagging 3 Golds and 1 Silver in the state level competition.
“There is nothing quite as fulfilling as running as fast as my feet can carry me, with the wind whispering in my ear, and my lungs aching to draw another breath as I test my body’s limits. I love competing in the championships, and to see my parents’ and teachers’ eyes well up with pride is the most gratifying feeling in the world. The word ‘thank you’, doesn’t even begin to cover the gratitude I feel towards NTPC Vindhyachal for introducing me to Athletics, I wish to dedicate my entire life to this sport,” said an enthused Rajini.
The girls performed exceedingly well academically by securing first division in their Class X Board exams. They earnestly strive to balance their multitudinous hours of practice on the field with an equal number of hours with their noses buried in their books. Owing to their stellar performance on the field and their outstanding academic record, NTPC Vindhyachal secured admissions for the girls in Saraswati Shishu Mandir School and is sponsoring their education. NTPC Vindhyachal endeavours to be the stoic pillar of support that the girls can rely on for manifesting their dreams of making Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district a shining spot on the Indian map.