Kendrapara (Odisha): He clinched gold in the Junior Commonwealth Weightlifting championship to bring glory for the nation as well as Odisha. Yet he remains unsung and unnoticed.
Authorities here forgot to show courteousness towards a champion. None turned up to receive Achyutananda Sahoo.
From Bhubaneswar airport, he travelled in a bus to Kendrapara. As he alighted, there were none from the officialdom to greet him on homecoming.
Hugged by close relatives and friends at the local bus stand, he hired an auto rickshaw to his native village Manipura under Derabish Block headquarters of this coastal district.
The 18-year-old, whose parents struggle to make both ends meet, bagged gold medal in 62kg category at the championship, which recently concluded in Samoa, an island country in Africa.
Sahoo, undergoing training at Army training sports institute in Pune, had also won gold at Commonwealth youth weightlifting championship at Cape Town.
The teenager has put his native village on the world map as the locals have erupted in joy after his success.
"Government officials are insensitive. He should have been accorded a hero`s welcome which the upcoming sportsperson deserves," said Ajaya Beberata, a local resident.
"It saddened me. None from the district administration made a courtesy call to greet me. I had expected a ceremonial welcome," rued Sahoo.
Kendrapara Collector Pradipta Kishore Pattnaik, however, said, "we are not at fault for not having received the champion on his homecoming. Sahoo should have informed us about his arrival at Bhubaneswar. Besides, there was no official communication from the Department Sports and Youth Affairs about the gold medal feat of the Kendrapara boy."
"We frantically tried to contact Sahoo, but could not. The district sports department was to welcome him," commented Narayan Behera, Kendrapara District Sports Officer.
The youngster`s official coach from Berhampur sports hostel, Sachidananda Majhi was all praise for Achyutananda as he narrated the success story of the Kendrapara teenager.
"I found the boy hardworking and talented enough to be a good weightlifter. He was a natural and instinctive sportsman. We spotted spark in his weightlifting abilities.
"Later, he was picked by the Army sports institute for specialised weightlifting training. We are hopeful that he would achieve greater goals in future," Majhi said.
"We are poor people. I never dreamt that my son would travel abroad and make us proud. He has bagged gold twice in international events. I am very happy. I have no words to describe," Bairagi Chandra Sahoo, father of the gold medal winner, said.
"I have four children, Achyut is the eldest. The crop return has not been enough to make both ends meet. Thus, to augment the income, I run a small grocery shop," added the proud father.
Achyutananda`s mother was also jubilant. "Achyut informed me of his grand success over phone. He was crying as he talked to me," said an elated mother.