Bangalore/New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) When Ashwini Chidananda with her sensational burst of speed won two gold medals for India at the Guangzhou Asian Games, little did she realise that her big strides were taking her to new heights in life.
As the Karnataka-girl stood at the podium, all those moments when she ran bare-footed in the fields in Jansale near Siddapura village in Udupi, whizzed past her mind. Her hard work had paid off.
On return, Ashwini could not believe her eyes when the entire village turned up to welcome her. The double gold medal has done a star turn for the 23-year-old.
"Life has completely changed for me. It's not even a week that I have come back from Guangzhou, and the response that I have got from people has far exceeded my expectations," said Ashwini, who was also part of the 4X400 metre relay team that won gold at the Commonwealth Games.
"I belong to a rural family and I have come up the hard way in life. To get such recognition, encouragement and love from people makes me feel proud. I have to continue doing the good work."
"The welcome that I got from people back home in village in something I will never forget. I came to know that they were so happy seeing me win the gold medals. In fact, some of them were in tears. It means a lot to them," said Ashwini, whose father is a farmer.
Of the two gold medals she won, Ashwini said the gold in the 400m hurdles was the most satisfying.
"I started taking hurdles seriously just a month back. And the fact that I could beat a tough field comfortably means that I can do much better. To start with there are some technical aspects that I have to take care of. Because I am tall, I need to fine tune my technique to cross the hurdles," she said.
"With the help of my coach (Yuri Ogorodnik of Ukraine), he has been a great motivator, I have been able to solve a lot of those problems and bring down my timing drastically which helped me to win the gold. I need to further bring down my timing.
"I know that I can only improve from here. And the encouragement I have received has certainly boosted my confidence. I am now eyeing to give my best at London Olympics."
Ashwini, who was also part of the women's 4X400 metre relay comprising Menjeet Kaur, Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose, said there is an excellent camaraderie among them.
"The team spirit was very high and it is one of the reasons why we could win gold in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games."
"It is a good sign for Indian athletics. We have the potential to do better and win more medals for the country.
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