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Prashanti Singh rewarded for breaking the mould

Prashanti Singh feels she could have got the Arjuna Award much earlier had she been from cities like New Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore.

other sports Updated: Aug 04, 2017 19:31 IST
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Prashanti Singh has been recommended for the Arjuna Award.
Prashanti Singh has been recommended for the Arjuna Award.(HT Photo)

In a traditional and religious city like Varanasi, girls playing basketball was beyond imagination earlier. However, a Thakur family bucked the trend and fought pressure from relatives and neighbours, allowing all five daughters to take up the game.

These girls gave a befitting reply to their critics with their success.

In a short span of time, these ‘Singh Sisters’ have become the sporting icons of the town. So much so that the relatives, who would earlier criticise them, now line up to click pictures with them.

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“We have seen those hard days. But criticism kept motivating us. We are here because of our parents’ belief and we are here only because of their dedication,” ace cager Prashanti Singh told HT on Friday after being nominated for this year’s Arjuna Award.

“We were never treated like ‘bechari ladkiyan’ by our parents, and even we didn’t budge against the boys in the basketball court. My sisters Priyanka, Divya, Akanksha and Pratima Singh too are strong-willed and that’s our success mantra.”

She, however, feels she could have got the Arjuna much earlier had she been from cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore.

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“I could have been an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer if had not taken up the game seriously. When it came to choosing one thing in life, I chose basketball,” confessed Prashanti, who would be the third Indian woman cager to get the prestigious award after Suman in 1983 and Geethu Anna Jose in 2004.

“I would have been happier had I got this award three years ago. But, it is still a big honour for me,” said Prashanti.

After making the India squad, Prashanti has helped India women cagers stay in the top-6 at the Asia level for many years, enabling them to play the Asian Games. She captained India at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.

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Prashanti was part of the gold winning team in the South Asian Beach Games in 2011 and the silver winning team of Asian Indoor Games in 2009. In the William Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei in 2011, Prashanti was the star in India’s rare victory over the formidable Korea. An employee at MTNL in New Delhi, Prashanti has a record 22 national medals.