A life of penury for this national medallist

With nearly 20 medals to her credit, 22-year-old cyclist Shahira Attar has done the nation proud. But, the national-level medallist is living in penury in a tin-roof shed in Almatti village of Vijayapura district. She lives in the shack at a rent of Rs. 700 a month.

Shahira has had to cope with not just poverty, but serious health issues as she is recuperating from a spinal surgery she underwent four months ago. She injured her spine in a road accident, while participating in a State-level cycling tournament organised by a private association.

Her mother, who works as a farm labourer, had to borrow Rs. 2 lakh to meet the hospital expenses. “After my father’s demise, my mother was forced to take up work as labourer, and my brother had to drop out of school when he was in class nine to work to support the family,” she said.

While getting back to cycling is Shahira’s top priority, the doctors say she needs at least a year’s rest and regular treatment before she can return. The young cyclist is clueless on how to raise resources for regular medical check-ups as well as repay the loan taken for the surgery.

An upset Shahira alleges that after the accident, neither the Karnataka Cycling Association nor the Department of Sports and Youth Empowerment offered help. When contacted, Raju Biradar, State general secretary of the Karnataka State Cycling Association, said: “The association is not financially sound to help our cyclists. We often seek sponsorship from donors, and sometimes pay from our pockets for our events.”

Assuring her of seeking help from the government and donors, Mr. Biradar said the government should give health insurance cover to all cyclists as they are prone to accidents since they practise on highways.

Shahira can be reached on 7760205867.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 8:28:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/A-life-of-penury-for-this-national-medallist/article14546817.ece

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