I recently watched a video talk by Dr Devi Shetty, Founder, Narayana Health, who said that it is important to have a fire in the belly to be able to reach for the stars and achieve greatness. While the context of his talk related to medical practice in India, what he said could be applied to pretty much all situations in life.
The protagonist of this story is 25-year-old Khushbir Kaur who won the silver medal in the Women’s 20 km Race Walk at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea.
Her story is not just inspirational but is the stuff that makes for blockbuster movie plots.
Khushbir, a resident of Rasulpur Kalan village in Amritsar, lost her father when she was all of six. It is to her mother’s credit that she has been able to achieve such success in her field. Having single-handedly raised five children, Jasbir Kaur, Khushbir’s mother, deserves all the praise she is getting today.
With the untimely demise of the sole breadwinner, Jasbir took it upon herself to ensure that she provided the best she could for her five children. She would take on odd jobs like sewing clothes for neighbours and selling milk to keep the family afloat.
In an interview with The Times of India, Jasbir says, “During the rainy season, my daughters, son, the cows and I, all lived in a single room, stashed together.”
The troubles that this family endured were many; and with no money to buy food for days together, they often spent their nights in the cow-shed.
Things changed for the Kaurs only after Khushbir started winning competitions and brought home the silver in 2014. Highlighting the plight of girl children across India, Jasbir cites the examples of her daughters and urges people to put a stop to female infanticide.
Would you believe that in 2008 at the Junior Nationals, Khushbir completed her race barefoot, not by choice, but because they could not afford walking shoes?
According to a report in Scroll, Khushbir is already gearing up to represent India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She says, “The current government is giving a lot of importance to sports, which is very good and we are seeing a marked improvement.”. She continues, “But the one thing I realised from the Olympics is that we must start preparing for these kinds of events four to five years in advance.”
“Preparing one year in advance will not help. There has to be a step-to-step approach towards winning medals.”
Being conferred with the Arjuna Award last year, this gritty athlete has miles to go before she rests.
We wish her all the best!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)