Murmu rues lack of sporting facilities for youngsters
Ranchi: After spending two years in wilderness because of doping suspension, athlete Juana Murmu is helping youngster in her poverty struck village in Odisha to take up sports but rues lack of basic facilities in the area.
"I am trying to motivate youngsters in the village so that they can come out from the poverty through sports but athletics kits are very costly and hardly anyone can afford them," Murmu said.
The 400m relay racer, who was suspended for failing a dope test in 2011, returned to the athletic track only during the recently-concluded Open National Athletic Championship here.
Murmu hails from a backward tribal hamlet in Odisha`s Mayurbhanj district where people still demand basic amenities.
"My father is a farmer. We didn`t even have BPL card. Even now we borrow electricity from a neighbour," she said.
Pursuing her graduation through distance education in Sikkim, Murmu has set her eyes on 2016 Olympics and stays away from home for better practicing facilities.
"If I stay at home, I can`t practice due to lack of grassy grounds in the rocky village, which does not have a gym. Even our house has borrowed electricity from our neighbour. So I stay in Delhi, Dehradun and Patiala most of the year," she added.
Coming from a farming background and third among five siblings, Murmu said her mother still walks to a distance to fetch water as there is no piped water facility at home.
"There are only three hand pumps and one well for sixty families in our village. My mother goes a couple of kilometre to fetch water," she added.
Murmu, who started playing football with boys, excelled in local running competitions that led to her switching over to the track and field.
"I use to play football with boys in my village, before switching over to athletics after a village elder, Bhim, found me running faster than anyone at village-level competitions where I won buckets and other prizes," Murmu said.
Making her debut in the 2001 junior athletics competition held in Bhopal, Murmu joined sports hostel in Bhubaneswar.
On the other hand, 17-year-old double sprint gold medallist Dutee Chand, also from Odisha, has no complaints as she firmly set her goals for the SAF games.
Third among seven siblings, six sisters and one brother, Chand, who won gold medals in 100m and 200m sprints at the Athletics Championships here, was inspired by her elder sister
Saraswati Chand who also won medals in the world police championships.
A resident of Odisha`s Jajpur district, Dutee, who began her career in 2006/07, said she is working hard to improve her performance at the international stage.
Dutee, however regrets on missing out on an event attended by sprinter Usain Bolt but hopes to meet her idol and the fastest man on the planet soon.
"I regret missing meeting my idol Usain Bolt during an event where the sprinter was present. I hope I will take an autograph next time when I meet him," she said.