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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Sprinter Asha Roy gives Singur a reason to cheer

On Saturday, the place from where the Nano had contentiously driven out, an international athlete and Asian silver medallist came home in a car. Dhiman Sarkar reports.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2013 00:21 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times

On Saturday, the place from where the Nano had contentiously driven out, an international athlete and Asian silver medallist came home in a car.

It's not something Asha Roy, who finished second in the 200m of the 20th Asian Athletics Championships in Pune on July 7, does often. The first time she came home after a podium finish on her international debut, it was on the 6.10pm Tarakeswar local from Howrah Station. After an hour-long journey to Singur, Roy rode pillion to her Ghanashyampur home.

Less than 24 hours later, perhaps chagrined by its inability to provide transport to Bengal's only medal winner in that competition, the state athletics federation ensured a more comfortable ride home. This was after Roy, 23, left Kolkata with assurance from the sports minister usually reserved for successful athletes.

At the national camp in Bangalore since December, Roy said there wasn't anything unusual about her homecoming. "Why should it be," she asked HT on Saturday.

"I had a normal dinner of rice, dal, vegetables and fish. I don't like eating anything else. It was good to meet my parents though."

Father Bholanath and mother Bulu have been her inspiration, said Roy, the third of four sisters and the only one still not married. "I jumped and sprinted for fun as a child and it was because of my parents that I took athletics seriously. School and academics were never an issue perhaps because I managed to do all right there too."

It was at Bholanath's insistence that coach Probir Chandra got his most famous pupil to also focus on the 200m.

Bholanath sells vegetables at the Singur station and as a child Roy often helped him before training.

Kamal Mitra, general secretary of the state association, said Roy got noticed at the state meets in 2009 and 2010 but it was by winning the 100m and 200m at the 2011 Open National Championship that her career took off.

It also got her a job at the Railways and she could finally supplement the family income, said Mitra.

Roy said she has no regrets on missing out on gold in Pune. "This was my first international meet." Nerves prevented a podium finish in the 100m (she finished fifth), she said adding that it also helped her stay calm for the 200m. Now training under Tarun Saha in Bangalore, Roy said she would be focusing on the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, both scheduled next year.

Singur resident Dr Asit Das, who also drives a Nano, said: "I had really wished the car rolled out from here.

That's didn't happen but that someone from this place has put Singur back on the national stage and for the right reasons makes me feel really good."

Mitra said Roy is headstrong and can win more medals for India. Should he be proved right, Singur would have a reason to cheer.

Just like Dunblane because of Andy Murray and nearly two decades after a massacre in a school made the Scottish cathedral town an international news item.