Lakshita Shandilya, the 18-year-old middle distance talent from Gujarat, won the 1500m gold at the Asian U-20 Athletics Championship in South Korea on Wednesday. She first appeared on the radar last year when she clinched two silver medals at the ISF World School Gymnasiad in France.
Lakshita comes from a family with modest means. Her father Vinod is a taxi driver. But he has been steadfast in his support for his daughter. Some well-wishers have helped too.
"Athletics is expensive. Lakshita needs professional training, shoes and a good physio. After witnessing her spectacular performances and her will to succeed, some NGOs have extended a helping hand. Her coach Rippandeep Randhwana supported Lakshita a lot as well," Vinod was quoted saying in a newspaper.
Lakshita, who started with hockey and then switched to running at 14, looks up to PT Usha. "I learnt a lot by just watching her videos. I dream of participating in the Olympics and win a medal for my country,” she said.
The switch from hockey to running happened on the suggestion of a relative of hers, who was a sports coach, and wanted her to take up an individual sport over a team one. “I enjoy running, so it was an easy choice," Lakshita said.
So far, it’s proving to be the right choice as well.