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No Money From Sponsors, Indian Sprinter Surviving With Railways Job

Middle-distance runner Lili Das was seen as a big hope for Indian athletics when she burst onto the scene in 2016. But things worked out differently from there and eight years later, she is still seeking her first senior international medal. The absence of sponsors has prevented Lili from realising her full potential at the top level, but the feisty athlete from West Bengal is not giving up just yet, years after having created a national record in 1500m in the Federation Cup (Junior) in 2016.

Das, now 26, qualified for the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where Neeraj Chopra won a gold, and finished 10th in the 1500m final there.

That year, she bagged gold in both 800m and 1500m at the Asian Junior Championships but since graduating to the senior level, she has not won any international medal bar one bronze in 800m in the 2019 South Asian Games.

"I have won international medals at junior level, but somehow, I am not winning international medals at senior level. I missed a medal at 2017 Asian Championships and I missed out on taking part in the 2018 and 2022 Asian Games. That is the sad part," Das, who has been in the national circuit for more than 10 years, told PTI on Saturday.

"But I am not giving up just yet. I am 26 now, but luckily, I have not had major injuries in my career and as long as I am fit, I will keep working hard and try to win international medals. My next target is the 2025 Asian Championships and then the 2026 Asian Games." Das has, however, achieved domestic success and she won a 1500m gold on Friday at the ongoing National Inter-State Championships, beating the likes of national record holder K M Deeksha.

Das stands at around 5 feet but is known to be a feisty character. In