Khushbir Kaur happens to be one of those sports persons who got into sport not out of will but more as duty. She recently fulfilled this duty quite capably, earning a silver for India at the Asian Games held in Incheon in Racewalking.
Khushbir Kaur hails from a small town in Amritsar called Rasulpur Kalan. The simplicity ,the innocent air in the way she speaks, the humility adorns her achievement with immense beauty. For her, things revolved essentially around her mother, extended family and village.
Childhood did not constitute the happiest of times for this sports woman. She belonged to one of the most backward villages in Punjab and was unaware about sport and society till she got into Racewalking.
Her life was like any regular girl until the age of six, when her father passed away. “Jab main chhe saal ki thi toh papa guzar gaye the aur uske baad sab kuch badal gaya,” she said. (My father passed away when I was six, and everything changed as a result)
Financial constraints forced her mother to shift her to a public school from a renowned private institution. Due to her mother’s will, she happened to get into sports in 7th class and tried her hand at a number of sports. Out of the 4 sisters and a brother, she was the only one engaged in sports.
She was a natural considering her raw physical attributes that developed over hours of work on her family’s agricultural lands. She happened to meet a very able coach at an initial stage of her life who showed her the right path and started training her for numerous junior events in Race-walking. She first came into the limelight after winning bronze in the 10,000-meter (6.2 mi) walk race at the 2012 Asian Junior Athletics Championships held at Colombo, Sri Lanka. She also notched up junior national records in the 5 km and 10 km events in the national, as well as international circuit.
As she started training intensively, she noticed a dearth of facilities, equipment and staff. All through, she had to face challenging odds to train and develop as a sports person. No grounds, no proper nutrition and no external involvement seemed forthcoming from the government.
Even after she graduated, the Punjab Government did not merit her achievements and provide her with any job openings and she remains unemployed till date. “Humne to CM Sahab ko kayi baar patra likhe, lekin aaj tak koi job ki offer nahi aayi hai”, she said.
Khushbir Kaur became the first Indian woman to clinch a 20 km Race Walk silver medal in the Incheon Asian Games by bettering her personal best and setting a new national record in the process. The 21-year-old clocked 1:33:07 to improve on her previous personal best of 1:33:37, to finish second at the Marathon Course.
Racewalking has definitely opened another window for her, a window that enabled her to walk her way into the record books.
However, her villagers remain as indifferent to her cause as the rest of India. We all crave for greatness, we fight battles- big or small- for glory, for recognition. Our intention is to make a mark in someone’s heart. Her’s was to make a mark on her country, on the hearts of the people in her community.
On the contrary, the lake has stood still, showing no signs of even the slightest of ripples. Stagnant.
Yet, there is an inherent pride in her voice whenever she talks about her medal, the pride of a conqueror. For her, it was a battle won.