Abdul Gani, TwoCircles.net
Guwahati: It was the love for chocolates which dragged her to the field of athletics and she went on to become the first woman athlete to win a medal for Assam at the national platform. She is Tayabun Nisha who broke a national record in discuss throw in 1971 and represented the country in several international events across the globe.
“When I look back to my childhood, it seems so funny. There used to be some village level competitions in my native place at Dhaiali in Sivasagar district on various occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day or on Bihu. Those days the winners used to get a box of chocolates. The love for the chocolates made me work harder to win medals as we could not afford chocolates. But gradually, I realized winning a medal also gives a recognition and later on I took it seriously,” Nisha told TwoCircles.net.
This how it started but the journey was not that easy as it seems. Belonging to a conservative Muslim family was another hurdle for her to take part in sports activities but could not deter her from the goal.
“Losing my parents at an early age was a setback but it gave me the courage to fight back the odds in life. I lost my father in 1970 when I was a class VIII student. It doubled the responsibility on my shoulders to look after my siblings. There were people in our neighbourhood who used to say things about girl going out to take part in outdoor activities. But I simply didn’t care because I knew in the hour of crisis these people never came forward to help us,” said Nisha.
But earlier, her father was encouraging. All these developments always motivated her to be even stronger. “We did not have much facility to practice but I used to be always prepared mentally. I knew only my dedication can lead me to the success,” she said.
Then even when she was going through a bad phase, Nisha started working for the Railways at a salary of Rs 250 in 1970s.
In 1971 Nisha took part in the 9th Inter State Athletic Meet to make her debut in Ahmedabad. Bronze in that tournament created a history in sports as she became the first woman athlete from the state to won a medal in a national championship.
In 1974 in Jaipur broke a 12 year old national record in discuss throw throwing a distance of 29.32 metre.
In 1982 Asian Games she missed medals but it did not hamper her mental strength.
“Though we worked hard before the games, I could not win a medal. But I was upset as I knew the reality. We were not up to the mark of other countries,” she said.
But a thought always haunts her that if they were provided better facilities, there would have been more medals. “We never had proper training. We did not have idea about the proper diets. But our contemporaries from other countries were well ahead than us. So I sometimes feel that we could have done much better,” Nisha added.
Now, she is planning to set up a sports academy and hostel especially for girls who are from poor families.
“As we have experienced lack of proper facilities for the rural girls, I’m planning to start a hostel where a young will be taken care of to build her sports career. But I’m not sure when we can start it,” she said.
On the present generation, the veteran athlete said that the determination is must. “One has to be determined to achieve. But unfortunately that kind of determination and hunger for success is missing among the today’s youngsters,” she said.