Hit by disease and poverty, top medalist archer from Assam is now fighting for life

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NEW DELHI: India-level archer Gohela Boro, 21, who won a gold medal at the Kerala National Games in 2015, is fighting a grim battle for survival. She has been admitted to AIIMS, Delhi after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Since Gohela started her career in 2008, at the age of 12, she has won as many as 77 medals at national, state and district levels. Despite her outstanding career, the young athlete did not have enough funds to finance her treatment, when the symptoms of SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), a degenerative disease, appeared first.

“I used to train for eight hours every day at the SAI hostel. But as I was preparing for the 2016 National Games, I began to feel intense body pain and even moving around became difficult. I was bedridden for five months,” said Gohela, composed despite the crippling illness which has reduced her toes to stumps. The sportsperson in her is still alive and she is confident that she will be able to pick up her bow and arrow again.

Before Gohela came to Delhi for diagnosis, she remained untreated for a year at home in Assam’s Kokrajhar. Her mother, a street vendor, and father, a daily wage labourer, couldn’t afford her hospital bills. Gohela’s condition was finally highlighted by some activists, who also started a crowdfunding campaign for her treatment. Bidhan Sarkar, joint secretary of the Discovery Club, which presented her case before the Assam government, said, “We came to know of her case through Facebook in April 2016, and then admitted her to the Guwahati Medical College. But she needed specialised treatment and it was only on April 8 that we managed the funds to admit her in AIIMS.”

Medals earned by Gohela Boro, a much celebrated talent in Assam as well as in the country’s archery world

Sarkar hopes that the government would step up its effort to rehabilitate Gohela and offer her a job. He hasn’t yet approached Sarbananda Sonowal, who incidentally was the Union minister for before taking over as Assam CM last year.

The one dream that Gohela still nurtures is to own a bow set. She does not have the means to buy one though, as the most basic set costs around Rs 2.5 lakh. “My bow was my most prized possession, but I had to give it up after I got ill. I would just like to have it with me as a reminder of the game,” she said.

Gohela, who is the third of seven siblings, was drawn to archery because her hometown’s culture is infused with success, and sometimes heart-breaking stories of athletes. In 2016, Buli Basumatary, a national-level archer from Assam, was found selling oranges on National Highway 31 after injury forced her out of the arena.

Source: Times of India

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