Lalita is a winner despite family opposition

Lalita Babbar heads towards the finish line. Pic/Suresh KK

Lalita Babbar was elated after completing the full-marathon in Mumbai, clocking 2:53:35 hours to emerge the best Indian in the women's category. Lalita's switch from half marathon to full has been a special one. The daughter of a farmer had to face family opposition in her quest to become a champion marathoner.

Her father Shivaji was against the idea of taking up sports as a profession. But she didn't give up and overcame all odds. "We are farmers and there is no fixed income for us. I am the eldest in the family and have three younger siblings. My father didn't want me to be a sportsperson because he was of the opinion that sports couldn't fetch me regular income. It was only after I became the breadwinner they started supporting me," said the 23-year-old from Maan taluka in Satara district.

She is basking in the new-found success, but is aware that her Olympic qualification dream is still not fulfilled. "I still can't believe that I was able to complete the marathon in less than three hours on first attempt. After the 35 km- mark there was tightness in my body, but I'm very happy with my timing. Before the start, I wasn't too sure if I could do well. If I want to live my London dreams, I need to better my timing in Delhi at the Mawana Marathon," she said.

Me on TV
The Babbar household proudly watched their daughter run live on television. "Today, even before I could call and tell them about my win, they knew it," said a beaming Lalita, who works as a senior Ticket Checker (TC) at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

When asked how she would spend the USD7,500 prize money, she said, "I will use it for my younger brother's education." Watching her colleagues and seniors egg her on made the day more special. The group included Central Railway's General Manager.

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