Shobha Desai is a woman of all trades. She is a police officer, an athlete and a mother of a 12-year-old. It is, however, her love for athletics and its active pursuit that makes her stand out as a wonder woman.
Hailing from the tiny village of Oglewadi in Karad, Shobha is part of the police force under Kalyan Division in Thane. Introduced into the world of athletics by her sports-fanatic father Shamrao Shivram at a very young age, she built her aptitude through relentless running practices on hills and roads in her village.
Starting from her school days, Shobha has won more than 85 championships till now, that range from the district level to national and international levels.
She also has many records in 21 km and 42 km marathons to her credit.
It was late A C P Ashok Kamte, a martyr of the 2008 Mumbai siege, who had motivated Shobha to join the police force in 1995, after having witnessed the running skills of the prolific sportswoman.
However, a break in her sporting career came in the form of her pregnancy in 2003, following which she had to discontinue athletics after being advised by doctors.
“I felt a lot like running and practising. I knew I was growing lazy and gaining weight. So, after a long wait of 5 years, I started again,” Shobha told The Indian Express.
Once she resumed her duties, she found extended support from seniors officials in the department in pursuing her passion.
“The department adjusted job timings so that I had enough time to practice. My seniors let me practice first and then go for duty,” she added.
In fact, when Shobha was backing out of Singapore Masters Athletics Championship last year due to lack of funds, help came in the form of Thane C P Param Bir Singh, who had funded all of her expenses.
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And for the 20th Asia Masters Athletic Championship in China, DCP Dr Sanjay Shinde and KDMC Mayor Rajendra Deolekar supported her with financial aid.
The woman remains unstoppable. One of her lifelong goals was to win the Standard Chartered half marathon (21.09 km), which she aced with ease in January this year. Now, she has a new target to clinch—to break her own record!