Early Life of Arati Gupta
Arati Gupta was born on 24th September in the year 1940. Arati Gupta was a long distance swimmer. She was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, when British Government of India ruled the colonial part of Eastern part of the world. Arati Gupta was initiated in swimming at the early age of four. His talent was spotted by Sachin Nag. She was inspired by Indian swimmer Mihir Sen to try to cross the English Channel. In 1959, Arati Gupta became the first Indian and Asian woman to swim across English Channel. In the year 1960, Arati Gupta became the first Indian female sportsperson to be awarded Padma Shri. Arati Gupta came from a middle class Bengali Hindu family. She was born the second of three children and the first of two daughters to Panchugopal Saha in 1940 in Kolkata. Her father was an ordinary employee in the armed forces. At the age of two and half, she lost her mother. Her elder brother and younger sister Bharati was raised at the maternal uncle's house, while she was raised by her grandmother in North Kolkata. When she reached the age of four, Arati Gupta would accompany her uncle to the Champatala Ghat for bath where she learned to swim. Noticing his daughter's interest in swimming, Panchugopal Saha admitted his daughter to the Hatkhola Swimming Club. In 1946, at the age of five, Arati Gupta won the gold in 110 yards freestyle at the Shailendra Memorial Swimming Competition. It was the beginning of her swimming career.
Career of Arati Gupta
Arati Gupta participated in several swimming competitions between 1946 and 1956. It was in between 1945 and in the year 1951, Arati Gupta won 22 state-level competitions in West Bengal. The main events of Arati Gupta were 100 meters freestyle, 100 meters breast stroke and 200 meters breast stroke. She came second only to Dolly Nazir of Bombay (now Mumbai).
Later Career of Arati Gupta
In the year 1948, Arati Gupta participated in the national championship held at Mumbai. Arati Gupta won silver in 100 meters freestyle and 200 meters breast stroke and won bronze in 200 meters freestyle. Arati Gupta made an all-India record in 1949. At the 1951 West Bengal state meet, Arati Gupta clocked 1 minute 37.6 seconds in 100 meters breast stroke and broke Dolly Nazir's all-India record. At the same meet, Arati Gupta set new state-level record in 100 metres freestyle, 200 metres freestyle and 100 metres back stroke. Arati Gupta represented India at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics along with compatriot Dolly Nazir. She was one of the four women participants and the youngest member of the Indian contingent.
At the Olympics, she took part in 200 metres breast stroke event. At the heats she clocked 3 minutes 40.8 seconds. After returning from the Olympics, she lost in 100 metres freestyle to her sister Bharati Saha. After the loss, she concentrated only on breast stroke. Arati Gupta used to take part in long distance swimming competition in the Ganga River. Arati Gupta got the first inspiration to cross the English Channel from Brojen Das. At the 1958 Butlin International Cross Channel Swimming Race, Brojen Das became the first among the men and earned the distinction of being the first person from the Indian subcontinent to cross the English Channel. Greta Andersen, a Danish-born female swimmer from United States clocked 11 hours and 1 minute and stood first among both men and women. This inspired the female swimmers all over the world.
Awards received by Arati Gupta
Arati Gupta was awarded Padmashree Award by Government of India in the year 1960. In the year 1999, the Department of Posts celebrated her conquest by bringing out a postage stamp of Rs. 3 denomination. In the year 1996, a bust of Arati Saha was erected near her residence. The 100 metre long lane in front the bust was renamed after her.
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