We know that sportswomen have to work extra hard and face more challenges than their male colleagues. Recently, Serena Williams announced her pregnancy. We also came to know that she won the Australian Open in January while she was pregnant. Kudos to her! But she isn’t the first woman to do this, and nor will she be the last. Sportswomen are daring, bold and hardworking. One such sportswoman you may not have heard of is Rachita Mistry. Of the 25 medals that she has won, 20 came to her after she gave birth.
The professional sprinter from India found out she was pregnant just when the Asian Athletics Championships were around the corner in 1995. She got to know about it when she collapsed on the field while training. Rachita, now 44, tells Scroll, “I wasn’t worried, I was happy but at the same time, wondering whether I will be able to take care of this child or not”.
The primary thought that did come to her mind was, would she have to give up her career? She had been an athlete from childhood and it was her only dream.
Rachita’s main athletic landmarks happened after she gave birth to her daughter. She said, “I always say I’m lucky I delivered my baby at the right time. After that, I started achieving better, better, better. I wanted to become a mother. I became a mother. I wanted to do all those things for my daughter. I did them.”
Rachita represented India in the Asian Championships of 1998. She along with P.T. Usha, E.B. Shyla and Saraswati Saha won the 4 x 100 metres relay race. In 2001, Rachita broke P.T. Usha’s record of 11.39 seconds for the 100-metre dash, with her personal best being 11.26 seconds. She is also a national record holder for 200-metre. Taking part in the Asian Championships in 2000, she came 3rd in the 100-metre race.
She retired in 2002, and soon after gave birth again. She is happy, and has no regrets — and now runs a fitness centre, and coaches young athletes in Odisha.
Women athletes in India don’t receive as much media attention as international sportswomen, but they still work hard and win big. The story of Rachita Mistry is inspiring, and shows that where there is a will, there is a way. She did not let childbirth stop her from winning. It was very difficult for her to take care of a baby, and continue training, but she had a strong mind, and did it anyway. Strong women deserve as much limelight as all the superstars in this country, and that’s the reason why Rachita’s story needs to be told.
Pic credits: Scroll