Indian sprinter Sarita Gayakwad made the country proud when she won the coveted gold at the recently concluded Asian Games 2018 in the women’s 4 x 400 m relay race. The quartet of Sarita Gayakwad, M. R. Poovamma, Hima Das and V. K. Vismaya clocked 3:28.72 in the finals to finish at the top. Also Read - Sprinter Hima Das Nominated For Khel Ratna Award by Assam Government

However, the story of the 24-year-old, hailing from Karadi Amba—a remote village in the tribal-dominated Dang district in Gujarat—is a one which can inspire many as to how to overcome obstacles and win the race of life. Also Read - Hima Das Recalls Meeting 'Role Model' Sachin Tendulkar, Says When I Saw Sachin Sir, I Ended up Crying

Dang, better known as the Switzerland of Gujarat because of its scenic beauty, is an economically distressed district and lacks primary facilities. And the village from where Sarita hails-Karadi Amba does not have any roads or means of transportation. It doesn’t have the modern day facilities of internet, telephone services etc which majority of the modern day people cannot even lift without. Also Read - Hima Das Writes to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju For Access to Outdoor training at NIS Patiala

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Sarita’s family is not an affluent one. Her parents, mother Ramuben and father LaxmanBhai, are farm labourers and had to go through a lot to raise and educate their children. The 24-year-old trained in the hilly terrain of Dang and even used to climb hills everyday to fetch water for her family, which eventually made her physically strong. During her school days, she participated in numerous games and even excelled in Kho Kho before taking up athletics.

After schooling, she wanted to do her graduation and didn’t think about athletics at that time. However, it was her coach at Chikhali’s M.R.Desai Arts and Commerce college who advised her to take up track running. And from there on, she never looked back. She represented her state in national level kho kho competitions till 2010, before making the switch to sprinting.

After excelling at the national level track and field events, Sarita finally got a chance to don Indian colours when she was selected in the Indian women’s 4 × 400 metres relay team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. She thus became the first track and field athlete from the state to be selected for the Commonwealth Games. The team came seventh in the final with a timing of 3:33.61.

At present, Sarita works as an income tax official. The Vijay Rupani-led Gujarat government recently announced a cash prize of Rs 1 crore for Sarita after her gold medal win at the 18th edition of the Asian Games held in the twin Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

(With inputs from