When Indian national record-holder athlete Lalita Babar was six years old, every morning, she would run barefoot up to her school that was nearly four kilometres away from her house in Mohi, a small village in Satara. Her farmer parents couldn’t afford a pair of shoes for her.
Even in 2005, when she represented the state at a national-level competition for schools held in Chhattisgarh, she ran barefoot in the 3,000-m race and yet grabbed the gold medal. Her journey from Mohi to Beijing, where at the World Championship 2015 she broke the national record, will be captured in the film Maandeshi Express — Lalita Babar, made by the city-based Prasad Mane.
“Though she has achieved a lot in the field of athletics at the national and international level, not many people know much about her. This film will be put up on YouTube and the entire world will get to know of her glory,” said 22-year-old Mane, who shot the film two weeks ago in Babar’s village in Satara.
The 30 minute-long film chronicles Babar’s journey so far with sound bites from her parents, her coach Bharat Chavan and herself. “Even the post-production work has finished and, by next week, we will put it online,” said Mane.
Babar’s coach Chavan said it was during a kho-kho event that he noticed the way Babar was sprinting. After seeing her stamina in 400-m and 800-m races, he encouraged her to participate in the national games competition for schools. “She has an undying zeal, she keeps raising her bar and keeps pushing herself after each win. It’s commendable how, despite the poor economic condition of her family, she has come so far,” said Chavan.
nner. In 2014, she decided to shift her focus to 3,000-m steeplechase, which was followed by winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, where she broke the Indian national record.
In 2015, at the Asian Championships, she broke her own national record and even the games record by winning gold and, thereby, qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics. “It requires tremendous focus and dedication to make big in any field. I didn’t have resources as basic as shoes when I began, but I was determined to do something for myself and my family. I started participating in marathon to fund my passion as well as help my family,” said Babar, who has been stationed at Ooty since 2014, undergoing training for the Olympics under her coach Nicholas Sansari of Belarus.
Currently, Babar said, her eyes are set on the Olympics medal. “I have been preparing hard for it and will give it my best shot,” she said.