Powerlifting is a strength-based sport demanding rigorous practice, determination, strict diet and consistency in performance. Even world-class powerlifters often acknowledge that the career span in this sport is shorter than other disciplines. Although in India, powerlifting has been a popular sport, in Bengal, the participation of women in powerlifting lacks lustre.
However, Sampa Guha, a tenacious officer in the Kolkata Police has been a pioneering model in changing the picture in the domain of powerlifting. Sampa has been a National Champion in Powerlifting 17 times.
More than three decades back, Sampa, a student of Uttarpara Uccha Balika Vidyalaya, found her interest in sports. She was taller than her classmates and didn’t find interest in indoor games. The cricket coaching camp in her locality allowed only boys of her age. “I was sad, devastated that despite having all the qualities, the local camp didn’t allow me to join, only because I was a girl,” remembers Sampa. At such a juncture of time, Sampa’s interest in athletics grew. The Bally Physical Cultural Association played a significant part in this regard.
Coach Subrata Debnath advised her to focus on Powerlifting and since then there has been no looking back for her! Ashoke Sengupta, her coach, was also a big inspiration in Sampa’s journey. In no time, Sampa started winning accolades in powerlifting. Bagging a Silver medal in National Games in 1997 was a big achievement considering for Sampa as a newcomer. Her outstanding performance eventually helped her secure a position in the Kolkata Police.
Sampa Guha’s medal tally is something which can envy any athlete! She has been in the pole position 11 times in Asian Championships and won the coveted Gold Medal four times. While representing the country in World Championships, she has won Gold Medal twice, both in the United States. She has two Golds in Commonwealth Championships as well. Sampa remarks, “Whenever I represented my country, I gave my best. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to represent my country at the highest level”.
What makes Sampa different from other athletes is her attitude toward life. There are innumerable instances of athletes in India who don’t compete anymore after securing government jobs. Sampa, on the other hand, has continued her golden run and even represented the Kolkata Police in various competitions.
A graduate in B.A. from Uttarpara Parimohan College, Sampa has won laurels for her consistent performances. In 2014, she received the Sewa Padak – Kolkata Police Medal. The Government of West Bengal bestowed upon her the ‘Banglar Gourab’ Award in 2017 for youth services and contribution in sports. In 2007 and 2010, Sampa was conferred the ‘Strong Woman in India’ title. In fact, in 2006, her name was published in the Limca Book of Records for her exemplary performances.
The policing career of Sampa Guha is indeed a gentle reminder that she has always been committed to her duties. In 1997, she joined as a Constable at the Burrabazar Thana. Thereafter, in 2001, she joined the Detective Department following which, in 2010, she was back in the Lalbazar HQ. Last year, she was roped in for the most prestigious job of guiding the All Women Winners’ Team of Kolkata Police. The Winners, an all-women patrolling team by the Kolkata Police, was launched in July 2018. Sampa has been pivotal in training the girls, been a constant guide to them. Truly, Sampa’s efforts have helped the team win accolades in checking crimes against women and making public places safer for them.
Sampa, a diligent officer in the Kolkata Police, signs off saying, “I’m extremely indebted to the Kolkata Police. Whatever I have achieved in life, the credit for it goes to the Department, my seniors and colleagues. I hope, more girls will come forward in the segment of sports, and make our country proud on the international podium”.