From a hut in Nashik village, 15-yr-old girl runs to gold in China

ChinaAnjana Thamke’s family at their house in Ganeshgaon

Dhavlu Thamke searches for words, before blurting finally: "It's an AC feeling." Airconditioners are a rarity in Ganeshgaon, a small village tucked in the hills 50 km from Nashik. In Dhavlu's small world, that's almost as precious as it gets as he talks about his 15-year-old daughter Anjana Thamke winning gold in the 800 m at the Youth Games in Nanjing, China.

On Thursday night, as the rain drummed a steady rhythm on the asbestos roof of the Thamke hut, an ever-growing throng of people made their way to its doorstep. Inside the small mud house, the Thamkes congregated around a television set while a radio chattered in the background. Finally, amidst much static and frequent interruptions in the TV connection, the family — Dhavlu, wife Nanda and son Sachin — whooped in unison. Anjana had just clinched the gold in the 800 m, finishing a good 3 seconds ahead of the second-placed Jogindr Savinder Kaur from Malaysia.

"We have been desperately trying to contact her," said a beaming Dhavlu. "However, we can't get through. We got the result on TV and since then the entire village is rejoicing. I can't explain how happy I am."

From a hut in Nashik village to gold medal in China

For the past couple of years, Anjana has been touted as a rising star in middle-distance running. What makes that rise all the more special is that she started receiving formal training only two years ago. She was first spotted at a district meet by Vijender Singh, who is known for having mentored Asian Games medallist Kavita Raut as well as rising star Monika Athre.

At her first national outing, the 2011 School Nationals in Ludhiana, Anjana won gold in both the events she participated in. She added three more — in the 400 m, 800 m and 1,500 m — in her next appearance at the Inter-Zonal National Athletics Meet in Pune.

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