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NANDA JHADAV (1969-1999)

Nanda Jadhav was a long distance runner. Born at Ashta in Sangli district where her father Shankar Jadhav was a school teacher, she went to school at the Hingne Stree Shikshan Sangstha, and later the Girls’ Junior College, Satara. There she came first in a six-kilometre inter-school race. A sports teacher from Kolhapur, Pandurang Mhaskar, was the chief guest at the awards ceremony for the race, and he was impressed with her performance. He encouraged her to come to Kolhapur, and defying her family, she went. Mhaskar trained her hard; she Nageshkar got her a scholarship of five hundred rupees a month from a Trust, and she studied up to master’s level in commerce from Kolhapur University and di typing and computer courses. She debuted as an athlete in 1984-85 at the all-India Varsity Meet, winning a bronze medal. In 1987 she came first in the cross country race at the National Games, Pune. She was a national record holder in the 5000m and 10,000m races. After her 10,000m win, her gender was even questioned, but blood tests proved she had normal hormone levels. She was the first women athlete from Maharashtra to have represented the country at the cross country-level. She represented Maharashtra in the ‘85-86 National Games in Delhi and bagged the gold in the 1500m and 3000m category in record time. She got three golds in the Kerala National Games, and two in the Pune National Games. She was known for always running barefoot; a friend once gifted her a pair of running shoes from Japan and she tried to run the Pune Marathon in them, but threw them off at the twenty eighth kilometre. During the fourteen years of her sporting career she represented India over ten times. She became the first woman athlete from Maharashtra to represent the country in marathons from Warsaw in Poland, to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Belgium and France.

She dreamed of setting up an academy for sportspeople from rural areas. She also received a bungalow in Hadapsar. In 1990 and 1991 she won the Pune International half marathon. She won the Allahabad marathon four times, she won a Maruti car at the Mumbai marathon and she also won the Delhi marathon. She married Deepak Shamrao Ghanshyam, a stenographer in an income tax office, and they lived at Pratiknagar in Yerawada. However, her life there was not happy, and her husband apparently tortured her for not bearing a child. Eventually in 1999 she was admitted to hospital with severe burns. She stated in her dying declaration that the stove on which she was cooking had exploded. However, her father alleged that his son-in-law had subjected her to mental and physical torture, because of her childlessness and in order to take away her property. Her husband and in-laws were arrested, but released for lack of evidence. She won the Chhatrapati Award in 1987 for her performance in the 1,000m race.
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