She has made the entire Odisha and the country proud by bagging a gold and a silver in the running events in the recently held World Junior Para Athletic Championship at Switzerland. And the way she has been progressing, Olympics too doesn’t look far for Jayanti Behera!
Having born to a poor family in ‘Manitri sahi’ of Satyabadi in Puri district, Jayanti had met with an unfortunate mishap when she was barely one. She had fallen into fire and had burnt one of her arms, which eventually handicapped her for the rest of her life. But as she grew up and started going to school, she saw children running and playing in the ground and couldn’t fight her urge to run. She eventually started running and started taking part in school level competitions. Her life, however, took a drastic turn, when she was noticed by her coach, Bishnu Prasad Mishra, during a sports meet in her school.
Mishra started training her for athletics and took all her responsibility. The coach’s foresight was perhaps an Olympic medal which he believed Jayanti could bag! With the right coaching, Jayanti soon started bringing laurels to the state by winning many national and international medals in running events, her recent achievement being at the World Junior Para Athletic Championship. Excerpts from an exclusive interview
What is your feeling after this grand win?
I am feeling extremely happy after winning medals at the World Championship. I really hadn’t thought in my dreams that I could win the races! I had worked hard and that is all I knew. The competition was very tough. Though my ‘start up timing’ was a little slow, at the end, I ran faster to beat my co-participants. I had an inner urge to get medals at international level for my country and fortunately I have been able to achieve my goal.
How did you qualify for World Junior Para Athletic Championship?
I qualified for the Senior Athletic Meet as a junior. I remained at the sixth position in the 400 metre relay race, in which mostly senior players took part. My rank in the game was good news for me. And, then I became the only junior player to be selected for the World Championship. It was a matter of pride for me.
So, how was your experience in Switzerland?
I have till now gone to many places within and outside India for my sport. But what I feel about Switzerland is that the place is a developed country which also has natural beauty. Though I wasn’t able to visit the different places there, I found the environment there to be pretty good. That apart, I got the chance to meet some athletes who have already competed with me. The overall experience was wonderful. In 200 metre relay, I got the second position. Soon after, the 400 metre run was to be held. And as I was very much junior in age as well as experience as compared to other players, I got a little nervous. That is when Bishnu Prasad Sir came to my rescue.
Whom do you want to give the credit of your success?
I would like to give credit for all my success to my coach Bishnu Prasad Mishra, my parents and the people of my state who have always blessed me. Bishnu Sir is the person who has made me what I am today. It is for him that I have been able to create my identity from nowhere.
Any message you want to convey to the young athletes who are willing to take up athletics as their career?
‘Will power’ is what one needs to have to get success. There are many athletes apart from me who have brought laurels to the state. When I can play like this in spite of my disability, then why can’t others who are fit and fine and can take up sports as their career?
Tell us about your future plans.
My only aim is to hold high my country’s national flag in foreign soil and that will happen only when I would be able to win more medals in my name. I wish to get as many medals as I can in the coming world championship.