When it comes to overcoming struggles, this quote by the famous French playwright, Moliere has always struck a chord; “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” And for Sabita Toppo, emerging as among the top performers at the recently concluded Junior National Championships in Guwahati, was one step closer to her dream. Toppo was the standout performer among four athletes from the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC) who participated at the championships, , winning gold in the U-16 girls long jump and silver in the U-16 girls 80m hurdles. Identified by the coaching staff at the HPC as an athlete of immense potential, she leapt a distance of 5.59 metres in the long jump and completed the 80m hurdles in 11.77 seconds, exceeding her previous Personal Best (PB) mark in both events.
Hailing from Sundergarh, in Odisha, Toppo is the youngest of six siblings. She displayed her talents from a young age as she participated and won races at all the annual meets in her school. As she secured her place at the Sundergarh state sports hostel, success followed as she won silver at the SGFI school nationals in 2018, which were held at Rohtak.
In 2019, Toppo joined the HPC, where her skills were nurtured further. She won the Under-16 Pentathlon gold at the junior national championships in Guntur, breaking the national record in the process. In January 2020, she won the bronze medal in the Long Jump at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) National Athletics Championships in Mumbai.
As she continues to receive accolades for her performances, Toppo’s personal coach, Rohit Mane is focused on her overall development. Her training is not only limited to technical aspects, but also her holistic development as an athlete and human being. Toppo’s main focus in the coming years is on multi-events, concentrating on the 100m hurdles, which she says are her favourite. “I am satisfied with my performance but not completely satisfied with the result. My main target for this year is to compete at the Asian U-18 Championships for India,” she elaborates on her plan of action.
About her journey so far at the HPC, Toppo shares, “I am extremely happy with the training I am getting at the HPC. I have improved immeasurably at everything including speed, strength and technique that wouldn’t have been possible without the expert training I have received here and without it, I wouldn't have been able to win medals at these championships.”