The flow of medals into Goa’s cup of joy of the 37th National Games went from a shower to a trickle with Sher Bahadur’s silver in wushu being the only medal of the day.
The other silver lining of the day was the presence of Talahsa Prabhu, India’s queen of the pool in her hey days, that buoyed the spirits of what would have ended as an uneventful day.
Chatting between races, Talasha recollected the past saying, “Destiny had a hand in the decisions I took as I was just a teenager who wanted a taste of something. Mentally, I was not in it. I wanted to explore life outside the pool before it was too late." Talasha who took a break in 2015 has climbed all podiums possible in India.
On Saturday, at the swimming pool in Campal, Talasha was a guide, a friend, a star with beauty on her shoulders, and a daughter who kept her father within sight. “Talasha’s was the first message she received after having won her race,” said Sapna Prabhugaokar, Sanjana’s mother.
Breaking the conversation, was a message from wushu secretary Kilman Fernandes as news of Goa's only medal of the day trickled in. “Sher works for a hotel in Candolim and he started coming for wuhsu classes. As he was good, I selected him to represent Goa and he has paid us with a silver medal,” said Kilman.
Back to Talasha and she back stroked her clock of success, saying, “Swimming has no shelf life. It gets better with age, and age is no detriment when the body and mind are willing.” Success is translated best when well ingrained in an individual’s mind and at thirty the waters are still inviting for the lady who once made ripples with her splashes.
When Talasha stopped swimming to explore the world outside, she discovered love and the strokes flowed freely thereafter. “I started dating and I married him soon because I felt I had found him,” says Talasha about her tryst with cricketer husband Reagan Pinto.
In the pool, Sanjana Prabhugaokar did not have her best day in her last race but was not worried as she had done what she needed to do – giver her best – and with her star Talasha around, losing was just part of the game.
Sanjana finished with two silver and two bronze and Shrungi Bandekar with one silver and bronze. “Had the facilities of today been available during my time, the story would have been different. I would have made it to the Olympics because we sacrificed so much then,” reflects Talasha as her presence around the pool awakens memories of the past.
Talasha intended to make a comeback in 2019 when Goa was supposed to host the National Games before being struck by the pandemic. “Who at that time thought that the pandemic would be over so soon? I sort of thought it was the end and literally erased all thoughts of a comeback,” confesses Talasha.
Talasha Prabhu, former Goa medal-winning swimmer
As Talasha dwelled into her path forward, news trickled in that Goa had won two gold and a silver in Taekwondo the previous day and scripting one of the gold win was P Anand who thus finished winning his third National Games gold in the sport.
Rodali Barua from Assam but representing Goa claimed the second gold and Sivaran, Anand's younger brother pocketed the silver. “Had we got the equipment earlier, we could have expected more medals,” stated Taekwondo president Navin P Raikar.
As the national anthem concluded, Talasha looked around and with a smile concluded her conversation with, “It is our hope that one day our kid would take glory to the heights we could not make.”
Thus, with a note of hope ended the tenth day of the 37th National Games where Goa finished at eleventh place, with a tally of 10 gold, 12 silver and 26 bronze.