As the world salutes Caster Semenya’s indomitable spirit that overcame career-threatening gender tests and an exile to win an Olympic silver medal, a former medal-winning athlete from India struggles to get on with life after being similarly sullied.
Pinki Pramanik needs positive vibes to emerge from an area of darkness her life has been since being charged with rape and jailed. It could come from South Africa’s flag-bearer who finished second in the women’s 800m final.
“I have been following her case. She is an amazing personality, fighting such odds. But you also have to give it to their government (South Africa), who rallied for her cause. She can be an inspiration,” said Pramanik, still contesting a rape charge that led to her being jailed.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” Pramanik told HT, referring to her arrest. “The problem here is we tend to believe what people say without even checking for facts. I have been subject to so many gender tests but it was still believed I could rape a person,” said Pramanik, who won gold and silver in the 4x400m relay at the Asian Games and CWG in 2006 before a road accident in early 2010 cut short a promising career.
“Had it not been for that accident I could have continued till maybe 28,” said Pramanik.Reinstated as a train ticket examiner at the Sealdah station is another means of recovering from the ordeal. The hordes from trains at Asia’s busiest railway station tend to evade ticket examiners but the sight of Pramanik fetches an opposite reaction. Commuters seek her out, shake hands, show their tickets and also hope to get an autograph.