To be a professional sportsperson requires pure grit and determination. More so, if you are a girl from rural India. Lalita Babar, an athlete and 300-metre steeplechase champion, who recently entered the team of Olympians supported by tyre major Bridgestone, talks to Sumantra B Barooah about her journey so far, and the role corporate support means for a sportsperson.
You are an athlete, you have struggled a lot. What does an association with a major brand do for you?
I am thankful to Bridgestone because such things matter a lot for a sportsman. When we perform well, we get some sort of support and when we are not able to showcase the expected, there is no one to support. So I am very much thankful to Bridgestone for extending this support over this platform. Through this, we can perform well in all future competitions.
Can you give me more details as to what kind of support you are getting from this association, is it in terms of just finance or equipments as well. Tell me about the various areas, where as an athlete, you are receiving support from this association?
Actually, Bridgestone is giving me good financial support, they are also supporting me equipment-wise and if they keep supporting us in this way then it would be possible for us to get more medals in the next Olympics.
At what stage in your life did you feel that you wanted to be a professional athlete?
Ever since I was a child, I had a dream to do something. I knew that since I originated from a village, I had to do it. Yes, I am from a small taluka in Satara and it becomes very difficult for us to come from there as girls are not allowed to leave the village. From childhood people have always asked me where I was going, wearing such small clothes, do your studies, these things and talks go on, but I had to be mentally strong.
It is my dream and I had to do it and this is why my family supported me and this is why I am here. Bridgestone has supported me to do well. Asian games are coming up and lots of other events are coming up and this makes it all the more important as we can’t miss any chance.
How challenging is it for a girl in India to chase her dreams?
Today’s girls are advancing in all sectors. In fact, girls overtook boys in the Olympics, so girls need to be supported to perform even better and garner more medals for India.
Are you planning to participate in any other categories?
No not now. Currently I am focused on one thing. I had participated in marathon but the combination doesn’t match. In steeple we have to do the heats and then the finals and because of it, it becomes difficult to perform in the marathon. That is why, if I focus on one thing, it would increase my chances for a medal.
So what is your personal best?