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Rajasthan girl beats poverty to win ticket to Olympics


JAIPUR: Bhawna Jat, 23, of Rajasthan has set a new national record at the 7th National Open Race Walking Championships in Ranchi. The performance earned her a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics in July on Saturday. 

Born into a poor family in Kabra village of Rajsamand district, Bhawna completed the event in 1.29.54 hours to win, surpassing the qualification time of 1.31 hours. 

She also improved her personal best timing of 1:38:30, which she had set at the nationals in October last year, by more than 8 minutes.“I am very happy. I worked really hard for 3-4 months for this,” a delighted but exhausted Bhawna, told this newspaper.

“I come from an area with a regressive mindset. Villagers used to constantly tell my father that he should not send me out of the house. But my family supported me and I want to give credit to my father, brother and the coach”, she exclaimed.

Her accomplishment is even more noteworthy as she hails from a place where women’s education is still a distant dream.

Her farmer father Shankarlal had been finding it difficult to make two ends meet with two bighas of land and a five-member family to tend to. Her brother Prakash somehow supported her in pursuing her passion.
Bhawna recounted that she had to leave college due to financial constraints but had trained for the event for over a decade. She had won a silver medal at the nationals under the guidance of her sports teacher Hiralal Kumawat.

Bhawna is confident that she would bring a medal for India at the Olympics. “I think, I have a good chance,” she said. Engaged by the Railways in Kolkata, Bhawna’s journey to the Olympics will inspire not only Mewar but also several girls struggling with poverty in Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, in the men’s event, Sandeep Kumar won the race but missed out miss out on the Tokyo Olympics qualification by just 34 seconds which is set at 1 hour 20 minutes.