Nabarangpur: Odisha Government's tall claims of turning the State into the Sports capital of the country by pumping in crores of rupees in establishing State-of-the-art infrastructure seems to be a laughing stock if one looks at the ground reality of how administrative negligence has forced many a talented sportsperson from the State into oblivion.
One such case is of an international repute weightlifter from Nabarangpur district- Arun Kumar Santa who has won three medals including two gold and one bronze at the international level.
Arun who once dreamt to represent the country and bring laurels for his land at the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics, is now looking at a grim uncertainty due to severe financial constraints coming down on his life like a bolt from the blue. Santa is now forced to work as a daily wager to make both his ends meet.
The most shocking fact is that neither the Central government nor the State government has paid any attention to Santa's plight even though he has offered blood, sweat, and tears to make the country proud at various international competitions.
Santa has won gold medals at the Junior Commonwealth Weightlifting championship and the Asian Weightlifting Championships. Besides, he has also taken part in the prestigious World Weightlifting Championships. He had cherished the dream of representing the country in the Olympics. But unfortunately, he was dropped from the Indian contingent.
"I have won 10-15 State medals, 8-10 national medals, and three medals out of my three international competitions. However, I had to leave the sport because of severe financial constraints. I couldn't afford to continue it anymore sans any support. I was forced to turn as a daily wager as I have to feed my family," said a crestfallen Santa.
The locals are still proud of Santa's feats. Being concerned about his ordeal, they have urged the district administration and the State Government to provide him some support so that he can continue his journey in weightlifting.
"The government should come forward with helping hands so that he could earn a better life and continue the sport again. He has given so much of his time and energy to win medals for the country. Now the time has come, the country should respect his sacrifice," said a villager.
(Edited by Suryakant Jena)