Shanthi hopes she will get back the medal

Shanthi SoundaraajanShanthi was stripped off her 800m silver in Doha for failing a gender test and Athletics Federation of India had said it could ask for return of her medal if Semenya’s 800m gold in Berlin World Championships is not taken back if she fails a similar test. “I will only be too happy to accept the medal if it is returned. I feel it will bring about change in my life. But I am not sure about competing in events in future,” she told PTI over phone from her home at Pudukottai.

Recalling her traumatic experience after she was stripped off the silver medal, Shanthi, who hails from a poor family, said none was ready to give her a job. “A nationalised bank almost gave me an appointment letter but withdrew it. Since that incident, people have been treating me like a cheat. I had been to some state-level events, but was not treated like a human being,” she said.

Shanthi, who now coaches poor children at Pudukottai, said she has not been training these days. “It will take some time to get into competitive rhythm and the required workload is too high.”

Shanthi, who tried to commit suicide in 2007 after being stripped of her medal, is on contract as a part time coach with Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) since November 2007. “I train my wards on both track and field events. Two of them, Rani and Muthukumar have won medals. Rani won gold in 1500m and 3000m in the Tamil Nadu junior state championship and silver at the National School Games championship in Bhopal this year.”

Urging Semenya to fight the issue at all levels, she pointed out that Africa is a huge continent, where she would surely enjoy the support of the people and federations.

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