For K. Rajitha, the 18-year-old athlete, groomed by the SAI athletics coach N. Ramesh and sponsored by Gopi Chand-Mytrah Foundation, it has been a fairy tale journey so far.
Rajitha, daughter of a daily wages labourer in Kunavaram mandal of Ramachandrapuram (East Godavari) and who lost her father when she was very young, even now helps her mother by collecting firewood to make a living when she visits her village which still has no proper electricity supply.
Now, she wants to collect medals at the highest level. Rajitha, picked by a selection panel headed by the great P.T. Usha, will be heading for Nairobi World Juniors athletic meet to be held from August 17 to compete in the 4 x 400 m relay, is dreaming big now certainly.
“Honestly, I was not expecting to be selected. I was just keen to give off my best,” Rajitha informed Sportstar from Patiala.
"Some of her major results have been 400 m silver in the South Zone meet and the Khelo India Games and she has been making slow and steady progress," according to her coach Ramesh.
“For someone who is so short (just above 5 feet), she has a remarkable burst of speed on the track and like many of those who come from such a background, she is a spirited athlete willing to go extra length in training,” he said.
The talented athlete’s journey started in 2018 when she joined the Tenvic Sports Academy in Nellore with Vamsi Sai Kiran as the first coach and then trained under Krishna Mohan before moving over to SAAP Centre of Excellence in Guntur to be trained by Mike Russel.
But, once Krishna Mohan took up her cause during the lockdown with Ramesh, the latter saw the spark in the young athlete and decided to make her part of the other talented athletes who are sponsored by the Gopi-Mytrah Foundation.
Rajitha also is grateful to the Mathematics teacher Nagender for providing monthly financial assistance of Rs. 10,000 to her.
“Only recently, Gopi (chief national badminton coach) presented Rs. 25,000 to each of the 10 girl athletes being groomed by us,” Ramesh said.
READ: SAI: selection of athletes for competitions is prerogative of National Sports Federation
For her part, Rajitha, who is inspired by Neeraj Chopra’s gold in the Tokyo Olympics, is looking far ahead.
“When I saw the national anthem played when Neeraj sir was presented the gold, I was excited and just wondering whether I can reach that level,” said the modest athlete whose role model is Hima Das for the simple reason that the latter too “had also come up the hard way”.