Shimla: Very little could have gone right for 15-year-old Baksho Devi, poor and fatherless, and with a stone in her gall bladder.
And very little has, actually, but for her courage and determination that have made her a hero on the social media, and in sports arena.
This Class 9 girl from Ispur village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh won a 5,000-metre race on December 22 to bag a gold medal in the district-level school athletics organised last week by the government, her coach Bagirath Chaudhry told IANS.
Baksho Devi won the race despite running barefoot - for her family couldn't afford to buy her running shoes.
The youngest among the four sisters, Baksho participated in the race for the first time and won it despite a severe gallstone pain at the last minute, Chaudhry said.
She has now been shortlisted by the youth and sports department to participate in the state-level athletics meet.
"For me, P.T. Usha is a role model and her passion for athletics is an inspiration for me like others," said Baksho Devi.
"I want to be P.T. Usha."
Baksho, whose two elder sisters are married and the third one studies in Class 12, lost her father nine years ago. She juggles classes with domestic work along with her mother to earn a living for the family.
Her home is a little more than a shack and her diet bears no resemblance to what an athlete of her age should ideally get.
One thing she does not lack is resolve.
"I am determined to pursue studies and succeed in athletics," she said.
Her widowed mother Bimla Devi said she could afford neither the proper outfit nor running shoes for the budding athlete. The girl ran in her school uniform.
"Now the help is coming from various people and organisations. She is now participating in the state-level event with proper dress and shoes," Bimla Devi said.
"The girls are not less than boys," the woman added, whose youngest child is a boy.
She said a doctor based in Solan town has offered to pay for the treatment of Baksho's gallstone after her plight went viral on the social media.
State Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has announced a cash prize of Rs.11,000 to the brave girl.
"She has presented an example that anything can be achieved in life with strong determination and constant efforts," he said.
Sukhu has assured Baksho of all possible help if she wishes to become sportsperson in her life.
He also called on the state government to extend all possible help to her.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)