3 TN Women Sprint Past All Odds to Be India's Hope at Tokyo Olympics
For the first time, three athletes from Tamil Nadu have qualified for the Olympics.
For the first time, three athletes from Tamil Nadu have qualified for the Olympics. Revathi Veeramani, Subha Venkatesan, and S Dhanalakshmi are part of the 26-member Indian athletics team and they will be representing India in the 4×400m relay race at the Tokyo Olympics.
These women, with a never-say-no attitude, have been training hard for the past three years. However, their journey, so far, has been tough and riddled with poverty and hardships.
Revathi Veeramani: A Granddaughter Making the Country Proud
Revathi beat her competition by clocking 53.55 seconds at the the 4×400m mixed relay race held at the NSNIS in Punjab’s Patiala on 5 June.
Her story of triumph against the challenges she faced in life has been one of absolute resilience.
Revathi V and her sister lost their parents at a very young age. They were raised by their grandmother, Arammal, who worked as a daily wage labourer in Madurai. Though villagers and relatives suggested that she send the girls for work, Arammal struggled against all odds to make sure they got the best of education.
Coach Kannan of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu recognised Revathi Veramani's talent during a zonal-level meet, when she was in Class 12. She had run barefoot in the competition. However, when Kannan offered to train her, she refused due to financial constraints. She said she wanted to complete her education. So, the coach enrolled her in college under the sports quota and encouraged her to pursue athletics along with studies.
“My daughter and son-in-law passed away when the two children were a little over five years old. I took them in and educated them. The coach at the school said Revathi was good at running and told us to start coaching for her. Though I initially hesitated, I allowed her to go later. Now, I am very happy that she has been selected for the Olympics and I thank the coach for extending his guidance,” her grandmother told reporters before the athletes left the country on Wednesday.
She was offered a job by the Southern Railway of the Madurai division in August last year and presently works as a Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE). She represented India at the Asian Games held in Doha in 2006.
Subha Venkataraman: No Adversity Cannot Stop Her
Subha knew that her true calling was running. But coming from a poor economic background, the journey has been arduous.
I won 20 medals at national championships. I am training in Patiala now. I have participated in seven international events, winning three medals. I assure you that I will give my best to win a medal at the Olympics.Subha Venkataraman
Despite winning several laurels, she is yet to find a job to sustain herself.
Dhanalakshmi Sekhar: The Next Champ to Look Out for
At 22, Dhanalakshmi grabbed eyeballs with her splendid runs in the 100m finals and 200m heats at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships in March 2019.
With the blazing run in the 200 m heats, Dhanalakshmi, with a record of 23.26 seconds, shattered veteran athlete PT Usha’s Federation Cup record (23.30 seconds) set in 1998. The sprinter from a small village, called Gudur in the Tiruchirappalli district, has been tipped as the next big athlete to look out for in the Indian circuit.
She was named the best athlete in the state during the 92nd Tamil Nadu Senior State Athletic Championships in 2019. She defeated two of India's premier sprinters – Dutee Chand and Hima Das in the 100m finals at the 24th National Federation Cup in Patiala. She clocked 11.39 seconds in the final to comfortably beat Chand who came in second with 11.59 seconds.
She lost her father at a very young age. It was her mother who did odd jobs to provide for the food and the education for Dhanalakshmi and her two younger sisters.
Dhanalakshmi pursued a degree in Arts from Alva's College in Mangalore. She trains under 31-year-old Manikandan Arumugan, who is also an active national-level sprinter from Tamil Nadu.
“I thank my coach and family, since my mother struggled a lot to get me to this place. So, I’ll win medals to make Tamil Nadu and India proud.”Dhanalakshmi, Athlete
She appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to provide her with a job.
“It takes a minimum of Rs 20,000 for me to participate in competitions. If I get a job, I’ll be able to take care of my expenses,” she said.
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