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As Bengal rues, Goa delights – The Sayani Ghosh story

Story: BASIL SYLVESTER PINTO | 17th July 2017, 04:55 Hrs

With financial constraints and training facilities not sinking her hopes for the larger picture, Sayani Ghosh – Bengal’s swimming sensation – is riding a new crest in Goa.

PANAJI \r\rThe 18-year-old hailing from Bally, Durgapur in Howrah district of West Bengal may have given her State pride at the SAFF Games in February 2016 at Guwahati, by not only claiming a gold in the 400m Individual Medley but establishing a new meet record. But alas! The fruition of her efforts was ignored by the State Government. \rTo be a swimmer at a highly competitive level, a sound financial backing is paramount whereby the right training facilities, swimming costume, food supplements play a significant part in the athlete’s overall development apart from his/her dedication, willpower and talent. The situation was no different for young Sayani whose family has made a lot of sacrifices to support their daughter in her endeavour for greater glory.\r Her father who owns a fast -food counter in their village has taken loans for her international standard racing suits. “In 2014, I bought a racing suit costing Rs 20,400 and a year later for the National Games in Kerala another that cost Rs. 30,000. With my father the only bread-winner in the family and given our standard of living, he had to take loans whereby he had to pay a certain amount at the end of every week and pay off the debt in a year’s time,” she revealed. \rHer hardships as a swimmer did not end there. After coming under the stead of coach Surajit Ganguly in 2008 at the Bally Swimming Centre, she took part in first competitive district tournament. \rInterestingly, Sayani took to the pool rather hesitatingly aged six in 2005, when her doctor advised her family that she could promote a healthy lifestyle if she took up swimming rather than fall ill time and again. Three years on, with coach Ganguly also doubling as her mentor she has been training regularly under his wing. But the facilities were appalling and stunted her growth in the aquatic sport.\r The pool was barely 50m in length and the water was rather thick, greenish like that in a pond. When she moved to Balli Gramancher Kriyan Samiti under Ganguly, the situation was unfortunately not any better.\r The situation was to change for the better eight years on. After being pre-occupied with academics towards the end of the academic year 2016-17, Sayani moved to Goa by the third week of April this year to further her dreams as a competitive swimmer. \rIncidentally, Sayani took part in her first Nationals in 2009 at Campal, Panaji. But her first medal came only a year later at the School Nationals in Solapur, Maharashtra when she won a Bronze in 200m Backstroke (u-14). Last year was very productive at the senior level to her whereby she set the pool alight with a gold in 200m and 400m Individual Medley, silver in 200m Breaststroke as also getting the betterment record. A Bengal swimming champion from 2009-16, she has set pool records aplenty for her State across events from 2011-16. To date, she has 27 medals to her name. apart from the Gold she won in the SAFF Games last year, she has 15 medals in the Age Group Level – Gold -4, Silver -3, Bronze -8 (including 1 Relay), 5 in School Nationals – Gold – 1, Silver – 2, Bronze – 2, 6 in Senior Nationals – 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze (including 1 in Relay). \rWith Indian Oil having her aboard since 2015 on a contract of Rs. 12000 per month, and now with good training facilities provided to her at Peddem Swimming Complex with gym training and a dietician on her tab, Sayani Ghosh through the dint of her perseverance and hard-work will prove a point or two why the Bay of Bengal will be dearer by her absence.
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