No one can stop a lightning. In the history of sprinting, Srabani Nanda from Odisha is one such lightning which brightens up the sky and tells you I can strike with thunder.
Sprinting started in Olympics in 1890 and first there was only a 100-400-meters dash then 200 meters was added in 1900. Women’s sprinting was added in 1928.
The untold story behind the success of women sprinters, their dedication, hard work, sweat, and blood invested, are not widely known. Especially in India, where a girl faces so many hurdles in education and livelihood embarking a career in athletics was considered impossible. But Srabani changed the records and this is how she did it.
Who is Srabani Nanda?
Srabani Nanda was born on July 5, 1991, in the Kandamahal district of Odisha. Her father was a clerk and mother a headmistress in a local school. She completed her graduation in arts from Ramadevi Woman’s College in Bhubaneswar and pursued MBA from North Odisha University.
She played a very active role in participating in social events in her village. Interested in sports, Srabani’s father saw her inclination towards sports and encouraged her to sprint. She started participating in several sports events.
Srabani, a 100m, 200m, and 4*100m sprint runner, got her training from State Sports Hostel, Bhubaneswar, in 2002. She was trained under coaches Nila Madhab Deo & Tarun Shaw of Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Her life-changing sprint was at G. Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she completed the 200-meter sprint in 23.07 seconds. She secured her place in the Olympics, as the clock limit was set at 23.20 seconds for qualifying into the Olympics, 2016. Along with her, another notable sprint runner Dutee Chand, also from Odisha qualified for Olympics.
Srabani was awarded ₹5 lakh incentive by chief minister Naveen Patnaik for representing India in the Olympics and special incentive of ₹10 lakh by the state government. The Odisha Olympic Association and Odisha Athletic Association rewarded ₹50,000 respectively to Srabani.
In an interview, she talked about her dedication for the past few years and said her next target was to break the national record of 22.82 seconds.
Srabani Nanda at Rio Tour, 2016
Keeping her spirits high, Srabani went to Rio de Janeiro, to participate in the Rio Olympics, 2016. Her race to gold was against the world’s best sprinters. Unfortunately, Srabani couldn’t qualify for the 200m race as she got eliminated in the 1st round of the tournament. She stood 55th among the 72 athletes, completing her lap in 23.58 seconds, which was more compared to Cote d’Ivoire’s time of 22.31 seconds.
Srabani Nanda’s Career & Achievements
- After kickstarting her career in sprinting, Srabani started winning tournaments since 2008, after she joined Government Sports Hostel, Bhubaneswar, in 2002. In 2008, she made her debut by winning the gold medal in both 100 & 200-meters sprint at the 24th Junior National Athletics Championship, which was conducted in Mysore.
- At the 20th National Junior Inter-Zonal Athletics Championship, which was held in Jamshedpur, she bagged double gold medals in 100- & 200-meters sprint.
- At the 53rd National School Games held in Kolkata, Srabani bagged gold in 100m and silver in 200m sprint.
- In 2009, at the 25th National Junior Athletics at Warangal, she bagged double gold in Under20 girls 100m and 200m.
- At 15th National Senior Federation Cup Athletics Championship held in Ranchi in 2010, Srabani bagged double silver medals in 100 & 4*100m.
- At the 51st Open National Championship held in Kolkata, in 2011, Srabani bagged silver in 200m sprint.
- She bagged gold in 4*100 meters at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Pune.
- In the 2016 South Asian Games in Assam, Srabani bagged one gold and one silver in 200m and 100m respectively.
- In 2007 SAF Games, Colombo, Srabani won a bronze in both 100 & 200-meters sprint events.
- In the 2010 Commonwealth Youth Games, in New Delhi, Srabani was a part of girls 4*100m relay and won a bronze medal for finishing the race in 45.25 seconds at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
- 2015 proved to be a successful year for Srabani as she represented India at Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and many international tournaments.
- At the 21st Asian Athletic Meet in China, she aced the 200m sprint in 23.54 seconds.
- In the Asian Grand Prix Series tournament, Bangkok, she bagged bronze for completing 100m sprint in 11.58 sec.
- Srabani and her team from India broke the 18-year-old national record in 4*100m relay in 44.81 seconds.
- She went to Thailand, Taiwan, Bangkok, Incheon, Glasgow for tournaments, where she won gold and silver medals in 100, 200, & 4*100 meters sprints.
- Her personal best are 11.54 seconds in 100-meter, 23.54 seconds in 200-meter, 44.81 seconds in 4*100 meter. She made this record in Glasgow 2014.
- At the G Kosanov Memorial meet in Almaty, 2016, Srabani aced the race by finishing it in 23.07 seconds, which helped her to book a berth in 200m sprint women category in the Rio Olympics, 2016.
The Odisha government, pleased by Srabani’s determination for her career and her achievements, decided to offer her the post of junior manager in the Odisha Hydropower Corporation. She was appointed in 2016.
After achieving accolades at national and international arenas it was the state’s time to give Srabani what she deserved.
Odisha’s 24th Ekalabya Award-2016 was awarded to Srabani Nanda for winning the hearts of millions of Indians and especially people of Odisha.
People like Srabani who hail from lower middle-class backgrounds deserve our utmost support and respect. Very few have the guts to represent India at an international event. Sports like sprinting requires utmost fitness, discipline, blood, and sweat.
Due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 Summer Olympics, where Srabani was supposed to represent India, has been postponed to 2021.
After failing to qualify in the 2nd round of 2016 Olympics, sources said Srabani has been practicing tirelessly so that she can make her record.
After achieving innumerable awards and accolades, it’s time for Srabani to set her foot into the 2020 Olympics with double the enthusiasm. These untold stories need to be heard by people so that people get acquainted with sports, which is not prominent in our country.
We are sure Srabani will again race ahead in the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympics.