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Cobbler's athlete daughter Sayali appears in ad with Ajay Devgn

Cobbler’s daughter, who won gold in DSO athletic meet, features in an advertisement with actor Ajay Devgn

Little did Sayali Mhaishune, the daughter of a cobbler, realise then that her 3000m gold medal-winning barefoot performance at the District Sports Office (DSO) inter-school athletics meet at Priyadarshini Park last October would end up being an inspiration to millions.

Sayali Mhaishune with Ajay Devgn in a recent advertisement
Sayali Mhaishune with Ajay Devgn in a recent advertisement

The story of the 15-year-old, who couldn’t afford running shoes, (published in mid-day on October 13) has made her popular enough to be part of the ‘Ab Daudega Hindustan’ programme initiated by Dabur Glucon-D. She now features in a television advertisement for the energy drink with Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn.

Embarrassing moment
“It was a bit embarrassing for me when, during the shoot at Film City (Goregaon), Ajay sir tied my shoe lace. He is such a big actor and it made me nervous and emotional,” said Sayali, the first of six athletes the company plans to train as a part of the initiative.

The initiative aims to provide opportunities to aspiring athletes who could not make it big or continue to pursue their dreams of representing the country because of lack of financial support and formal training.

It is learnt, Sayali was paid Rs 45,000 for the advertisement and will receive a similar amount six months later, as per the
contract. The Class X student of RM Bhatt High School (Parel) said: “I had goosebumps when they informed that I would be shooting with Ajay sir. We shot at four venues — Kandivli, where I am seen climbing the stairs with a bucket filled with water, Film City (Goregaon), SK Somaiya College ground (Ghatkopar) and Juhu beach. Ajay sir was so humble and made me feel at ease  throughout. I didn’t have to act too much as I was doing something that comes natural to me.”

Rajeev John, head of the health supplements at the firm, said: “Sayali is the first promising athlete for the ‘Ab Daudega Hindustan’ initiative. She, along with five other underprivileged kids, will be provided world-class coaching for a year at the Ashwini Nachappa Foundation. We will look at continuing the support based on their performance at the coaching camp.”
Dad’s pride

Sayali’s father Mangesh said money from the deal would help him clear a few debts. “I never thought my daughter would help my financial condition. I am proud of Sayali,” said the cobbler from Dadar east.

Though Sayali doesn’t get to watch many movies, the budding athlete wants to meet her favourite actor Hrithik Roshan in person someday.

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