Bushra Khan, a saga of human grit and courage on the track
Story by Senior Journalist, Jayant Singh-
The saga of Bushra Khan, the 3000 metres girls’ winner from Madhya Pradesh on the second day of the athletics event of the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games here is one of extraordinary grit and courage against all odds. No wonder, there was an extra element of warmth and spontaneity among the officials and bureaucrats of the host state as the pocket-sized girl with beaded hair turned up for the opening ceremony.
Bushra’s winning effort of 10:04.29 secs may still have been a little far off the existing youth national mark of 9:50.54 (set by Seema Mangalgiri in 2017) – but one has to doff the hat to her for the resilience of the the 18-year-old.
Coming from a lower middle class family in Sehore district, where her father Gaffar Khan could barely make both ends meet by working as a support staff in a chemical factory, disaster struck them when her ‘abbu’ was killed in a blast only last year. With no second breadwinner in the family, which has her mother and two younger sisters aged 13 and 15 years, it has now become doubly difficult for her to pursue her dreams.
Speaking to Khelo India Media, an emotional Bushra was trying her best to hide the raw emotions which flowed inside her. ‘’His memory is really dogging me today. I want to dedicate this medal to him and sincerely hope that I am adopted as a Khelo India athlete after my two medals in the middle distance today,’’ she mumbled. Bushra had narrowly lost the mile race on Friday where she had to settle for the silver.
The shy girl, who touched everyone’s feet who greeted her along the way, said missing out on the gold in 1500m actually made her more determined to pay back the state’s faith in her. ‘’As per my coach S.K. Prasad’s advice, I had held back myself till the final 200 metres. He told me that treat it as a 200 metres race when you are round the bend and the tactics worked for me,’’ she said.
Prasad, the chief coach of the Madhya Pradesh Athletics Academy and her mentor since 2016, chipped in: ‘’We had been appealing to give her a Khelo India athlete status since the tragedy in the family. The out-of-pocket allowance of Rs 10,000 per month, which the Khelo India athletes receive, will at least be of some help to meet their family expenses.’’
The state academy, meanwhile, had taken her under their fold and there had been no let-up in her training schedule in the build-up for the Khelo India event. ‘’She had a 3000m bronze in her first appearance in KIYG, but we knew she had it in her to do better. We have created a year-long macro plan for her as it’s a tactical race and one has to work in step-by-step segments like fitness, strength and tactics,’’ Prasad said.
Now in her BA First Year, Bushra has no 3000m champion as an idol but wants to nurse an Olympic goal. ‘’I hope I can give the country an Olympic medal,’’ she added.