I didn’t want a DNF against my name: J.J. Shobha

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Heptathlete Shobha recounts her gritty display the Athens Games.

The Olympics is not all about winning medals!

In the birthplace of the Modern Games, Athens, J.J. Shobha came up with a performance which still stands out as one of the most memorable performances by an Indian — not for winning a medal — but for completing her heptathlon events despite a ligament tear before the final segment (800m).

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For the 43-year-old Shobha, the 2004 Games is a personal high too because of the amazing spirit she displayed in the face of serious injury for which she received a standing ovation from the crowd for her grit and determination.

“The memories of that day are still fresh. No doubt, there is a lifelong regret of missing a huge opportunity of having a go at the Olympic medal when you know you are at your best. But again, it was destiny that saw me suffer that ligament tear in the javelin event,” Shobha recalled in a chat with The Hindu.

“Well, some thoughts will be repetitive but I have no issues for I am taken back to the Athens Games and there is no better joy than sharing that unforgettable experience,” said the South Central Railway officer with a big smile.

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“When I look back, I had entered the Athens Games after setting the National record in heptathlon (6211 points which still remains in her name) and the injury coming at the wrong time hurts me most.

“I vividly remember being carried away on a stretcher twice during the heptathlon in Athens — once after the injury and the after completing the 800m under serious distress,” said the 43-year-old mother of two girls.

“Honestly, I was not sure whether I would complete the event. But somehow I mustered the courage and conviction to do that. I just didn’t want DNF (Did Not Finish) against my name in the Olympics. I was glad that I finished 11th overall (6172 points).”

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Shobha’s tryst with the Olympics will be one of those moments which truly symbolise the motto and spirit of the Games.

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