Nation Other News 17 Oct 2016 Tamil Nadu’s b ...

Tamil Nadu’s bid to restore Santhi’s dignity

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 17, 2016, 6:33 am IST
Updated Oct 17, 2016, 6:44 am IST
Santhi Soundararajan
 Santhi Soundararajan

Chennai: Athlete Santhi Soundararajan, whose career came to a shuddering halt in 2006 as a result of hormonal imbalance in her body, will get a permanent coaching job with the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.

Sports Minister ‘MaFoi’ K. Pandiarajan said a decision has been taken to appoint Santhi as a coach at the SDAT and an appointment order would be handed over to her in the next few days. He told Deccan Chronicle that the step of giving her a permanent job was part of attempts to “restore dignity” to a Tamil sportswoman.
“We have taken the decision to give a permanent job to her (Santhi). This is the right step in the direction for raising her right to reclaim her medal. We would also get in touch with the IOA and SAI to take up her case at the Court of Arbitration,” he said.

Maintaining that there was merit in Santhi’s case that she could not speak or understand any language other than Tamil, Mr Pandiarajan said her point of view was not understood.

Santhi faced problems at every step of her career. If poverty stymied her development at a young age, she was robbed of her 800m silver medal from the 2006 Asian Games after reportedly failing a gender test. Santhi thanked the state government for giving her a permanent coaching job.

“The job is a big boost for my career. I feel my decade-long hard work has paid off. The personal assistant of the state sports minister broke the news to me today. I’m yet to get the order, so I don’t know where I would be posted,” she said. Wherever she is posted, Santhi is determined to work harder than ever to produce champion athletes. “Not having a permanent job had been a big worry ever since I ended my running career. The Tamil Nadu government’s announcement has lifted the gloom. I can’t wait to hit the ground. Our state has plenty of talent. My goal is to help our athletes realise their potential on the international stage,” she said.

Like Caster Semenya of South Africa and India’s Dutee Chand, Santhi has a condition called hyperandrogenism which causes abnormal production of male hormones in a female. The jury is still out whether the condition aids the performance of an athlete. Although Semenya and Chand are able to compete now thanks to the robust legal support they got, Santhi had to abandon her track dreams abruptly. Many experts have decried gender tests, saying they humiliate athletes concerned.

Santhi said she would continue the fight to reclaim her silver medal. “I will not give up because the medal belongs to me. Having a permanent job will only help me redouble my legal efforts. I’m sure I will get the medal one day,” she added.

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