Uttar Pradesh ignores its medal-winning policewoman

Agra, Aug 3 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh policewoman Anita Yadav, now in Northern Ireland for the World Police and Fire Games, has won numerous medals and laurels over the past 15 years. But she regrets she is largely ignored.

The Northern Ireland games are a biennial event consisting of a wide range of individual and team sports. She will take part in the 200 metres flat and long jump events.

"I have won all the shields and honours in police games for Agra and Uttar Pradesh in the past 15 years. But no one is proud of me," she laments. The 38-year-old Anita has remained a constable ever since she joined the Uttar Pradesh Police 15 years ago.

At the Malaysian International Open Masters Athletics Championship four years ago, Anita got the best woman athlete award.

She touched 5m 40cm in long jump, winning a gold. She clinched a gold in javelin throw and a bronze in the medley relay race.

She was then the lone representative from Uttar Pradesh.

As a constable posted in Mathura, 135 km south of New Delhi, she finds it hard to combine her duties with sports.

"I manage because my husband Shanti Swarup, who is also in the police, takes care of my daughter and son. He has never let me feel burdened with domestic chores and has been a great source of encouragement," Anita told IANS before leaving for Belfast.

"I come from a very conservative background in Etawah. When I go to my in-laws, I still have to hide my face behind a veil despite my long international exposure.

"Even with 80-odd medals, I have no future in sports. They (authorities) give me nothing extra, no facilities, no allowances.

"My own salary is spent on my diet. I eat 85 almonds daily, drink two litres of milk and take a very rich vegetarian diet of dal roti, plus lots of desi ghee and at least five glasses of fruit juice."

Despite all the successes, she keeps a low profile.

"At the international meets I stay alone, keep a low profile and concentrate on my work because I am a fitness freak."

Anita speaks about her family virtues.

"Let me put it in bold letters: we do not accept a single penny from corrupt sources or as bribery. The whole department knows that. You know how difficult it is to stay away from the corrupting influences of the system you are part of, but I am proud of this fact," she told IANS.

A postgraduate in sociology from Jeevaji University at Gwalior, Anita is totally devoted to sports. She has won medals not only in athletics but also in judo, table tennis and weightlifting.

What is the secret behind her success?

"I win medals because I am fit and practise regularly, come what may," Anita said.

The concept of promoting sports in the police and fire fighting communities began in 1967 with the first ever California Police Olympics. The competition is open for serving and retired officers.

This year, 56 events will be held at 41 places across Northern Ireland. There will be over 7,000 competitors from over 60 countries.

Says a colleagues about Anita: "This woman is indeed made of stern stuff. Her kitty of medals weighs several kilograms, having won them at state, national and international meets at regular intervals."

But the cold indifference and lack of encouragement from society in general and her own department has begun to hurt.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at brij.k@ians.in)

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