Phrases like ‘on cloud nine’ or ‘all smiles’ would seem too far-fetched for 25-year-old Sreeja P, a visually-impaired young woman who reaped two gold and three silver medals at the recently-concluded third Kerala State Paralympic Championship 2014 in Kozhikode, when her dream to get a secure government job remains distant.
Sreeja clinched a first in shot put and discus throw and came second in 100-metre race, long jump and javelin throw in the championship.
Since school days, she has been etching victories on track in athletics and sports events, that too by efforts of her own. After schooling, she pursued a master’s in Malayalam Language and Literature from Women’s College, followed by a BEd in Malayalam. Now, she longs for the day she gets a teaching job.
Sreeja, who was born visually-challenged, is etching victories on track crossing several hurdles in life. “I never underwent coaching for any sport, but used to put in my efforts in events and won prizes at district and state-level since school days. I did not even own a pair of sports shoes when I ran on track, which were later gifted to me by Satya Sai Trust,” she says.
Her mother, who is also visually-challenged, finds it hard to make both ends meet with the paltry sum received as welfare pension. Sreeja’s elder siblings, a brother and sister, are married.
According to Sreeja, in many competitions, most often the only help she receives is from the Trust and in some others, the organisers make arrangements for travel and accommodation.
In the recent paralympic championship, during the race, she stumbled upon something and fell on the ground, severely injuring her leg. “At first I thought of not contesting in the remaining competitions. But, later, I decided to go ahead,” says Sreeja, with confidence.
Now she is gearing up for the national competitions to be held in Bangalore and is keeping herself filled with hopes and aspirations for running successfully on track as well as in real life.