After a decade-long struggle, athlete Santhi Soundarajan, who was stripped of her silver medal won at the 2006 Asian Games because she failed a controversial gender test, is all set to get a permanent job as a coach with the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.
The State government has decided to appoint the runner as an athletic coach and her salary will be a minimum of Rs. 30,000 along with benefits, although the location of her posting is yet to be decided, sources in the Department of Sports and Youth Welfare said.
Santhi told The Hindu that she was surprised and delighted when she received a call from the Department on Sunday, informing her that she would get her appointment order in few days.
The 35-year old from Kathakurichi in Pudukottai district, works as a temporary coach in Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) facility in Mayiladuthurai. After a troubled phase when she worked in a brick kiln in her home district, she could enrol in a SAI training course.
M. Gopi Shankar, a Madurai-based gender rights activist assisting Santhi said that the fight would continue until she gets back her medal, as the gender test was unscientific. Last year, the Madras High Court asked the State government to consider her plea for a permanent job.
Tamil Nadu Sports Minister K. Pandiarajan said the State will plead her case with the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. “In parallel, we will write to SAI, Indian Olympic Association and Athletics Federation of India to take up Santhi’s case in that forum,” he said. “It is not just about getting back the medal but also restoring Santhi’s dignity. The State government will do everything possible to get her justice,” the Minister said. The National Commission for SCs recently took up her case with the Department of Sports.