With just three days to go to mega sports event of 2012 London Olympics, breaking news of the day comes from sports in India showing the treatment that sports prefessionals get in India.
Today there was a report in a leading news paper and TV news channels which showed that Santhi Soundarajan who had won a silver medal in the 2006 Asian Games for India is currently working as a daily wager at a brick kiln in Tamil Nadu.
As per the news report, Santhi Soundarajan has been working at the brick kiln for three months, earning 200 rupees (nearly $4) per day. “My hands ache and burn all the time,” Santhi told the newspaper. “The skin has peeled off; there are boils all over”.
Santhi Soundarajan, Asian Games medallist was stripped of her women’s 800 metres silver medal in the 2006 Asian Games after failing a gender test.
Santhi Soundarajan, like many Indian track and field athletics, took up sport to find a secure job and escape grinding poverty. One of the five children of brick-kiln labourer parents, she overcame malnutrition as a child to become a middle-distance runner.
In fact, a similar situation was faced by South African athlete Caster Semenya, who too had failed a similar gender test and had to concede the gold medal she won in Berlin World Championship 2009.
However, the South African authorities stood firmly behind the 800 metre runner and finally the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) revoked the ban on her. In fact, Semenya would be her country’s flag-bearer at the 2012 London Olympics.
This news report is likely to be another embarrassment for the Indian federation, after the last months report on Indian athlete Pinki Pramanik, who won the women’s 4x400m relay at the 2006 Asian Games, was charged with rape by a woman who claimed the athlete was actually a man.