After failed gender test, hope blooms for Asiad silver medalist Santhi Soundarajan
Banned by Athletics Federation of India from competing after failing the gender test in 2006, the middle-distance runner is set to become an athletics coach.
Santhi Soundarajan, the impoverished middle-distance runner who was stripped of her Asian Games medal after failing a gender test and left to work as a labourer, will soon be able to realise her dream of becoming a qualified athletics coach.
The pain and suffering Santhi has been subjected to will soon become a thing of the past as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has provided her a chance to pursue a diploma course in athletics from the National Institute of Sports, Bangalore.
SAI has also written to the Tamil Nadu state government to fund her expenses during her stay at the complex.
"Santhi will undergo her diploma course from NIS, Bangalore to become a qualified coach. She had been alloted a separate accommodation for her course at NIS, Patiala where she was originally admitted to pursue her course, but now on her request, we have decided to shift her to Bangalore, the city closer to her hometown (in Villupuram district) in Tamil Nadu," SAI DG Jiji Thomson told PTI.
"She will be alloted a separate room outside the hostel complex during her diploma course for the year 2013-14 which begins from July 3," he added.
He also informed that SAI was awaiting a reply from Tamil Nadu chief secretary Sheela Balakrishnan on its plea to fund Santhi's expenses for undergoing the course.
"I had written a letter to the chief secretary a week ago. We are yet to hear from her but we are quite hopeful that the state government will come forward and fund Santhi's expenses," he said.
For Santhi, it has been a tumultuous journey so far. She became the cynosure of all eyes when she won a silver medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games.
But a failed gender test a few months later, and the athlete was immediately stripped of her achievement. She was later left to work as a daily-wager in a brick kiln in Tamil Nadu.
Last year, the country woke up to the news of the 26-year-old slogging eight hours under scorching heat to earn a measly sum of Rs 200 per day.
The Union government took cognisance of the matter and promised Santhi a seat at the NIS, Patiala.
Another SAI official informed that Santhi would be spending around 10 months at the NIS complex in Bangalore.
"Her gender verification had been relaxed for admission to the diploma course but all other terms and conditions for admission will be followed. SAI DG, in March this year, promptly took up her case and detested the idea of a gender test and grant her admission for a course in Patiala after seeking advice from the Union Sports Ministry," the official said.
Santhi had been banned by the Athletics Federation of India from competing in national and international competitions after failing the test in 2006.