Assam, August 9: While the Assam government gears up to give a rousing welcome to Tokyo Olympic medallist Lovlina Borgohain, the story of the torchbearer of the London Olympic from Assam, Pinky Karmakar, has made headlines in national media.
Pinky Karmakar, who belongs to a tea garden workers’ family in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, was 17 years old when she went to Nottinghamshire in 2012 to represent India as the torch-bearer run at London Olympics.
Pinky, who aspired to be an archer, was also selected among 20 schools where she was associated as a coach in UNICEF’s Sports Development Programme.
But she is now working as a daily wage labourer in the Borborooah Tea Estate of Dibrugarh district in Assam.
She now gets a daily wage of Rs 167.
Pinky said she clearly remembers the moments of holding the torch with the flame.
“It was heavy and I needed to lift it with one hand and raise the other hand. The very feeling of pride, that I was doing it for my county in London gave me enough strength to pull through,” Pinky said in the interview.
She said she came across many people including football legend David Beckham as his academy provided them with the jerseys.
“Those were the best days of my life,” Pinky recalled.
Pinky said she also used to run a night school for the uneducated adults of her tea garden and adjoining areas. The 2012 Summer Olympics was held from July 27-August 12, 2012 in London, where Manipur boxer Mary Kom won the bronze medal for the country.
Union ports and shipping minister Sarbananda Sonwal was one among the many who received Pinky at the airport and assured her of all help. Then Union minister of state (independent charge) for Northeast Development, Pawan Singh Gathowar offered some help to her.
She said as her old father retired and she had to look after her brother and sister at home, she decided to join as a tea garden labourer.
She was associated as a coach in UNICEF’s Sports Development Programme but her direct association with the Fund ended after 2012. But she still continues her duties as students’ development coach under ABITA which pays her an amount of Rs 7,000 per month.
The All Assam Tea Students Association of Dibrugarh district, which feels that the successive governments could not make use of Pinky’s experience. The association said they would meet Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma soon to discuss the matter.
Pinky expressed her happiness at Lovlina Borgohain clinching a medal for the country at Tokyo Olympics. She wished no sportsperson should not face a situation like her.