From tackling poverty to reserving a seat for the Tokyo Olympics – The story of Tamil Nadu’s athletes linked to the Games
Three young women from Tamil Nadu to Tokyo have the same dream of winning medals and making the country proud. They also have a similar history of struggle, poverty, and hard work.
In the recently concluded final selections at NSNIS in Patiala, Punjab, Revathi Veeramani, Subha Venkataraman and Dhanalakshmi Sekhar secured a spot in the Indian contingent for the mixed 4x400m relay race at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
For the Tokyo Olympics which will begin on July 23, Revathi was the first to secure a place in the final contingent. She clocked 53.55 seconds in the final selection round. Revathy’s journey has been difficult. She lost both parents at a very young age and was raised by her grandmother, a day laborer.
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Revathy’s grandmother Arammal said: “My son-in-law and my daughter passed away when the two daughters were about 6 years old. I didn’t have the financial backing to support Revathy’s athletic dream, but she wanted to give it a try. She has won many medals since her childhood. Then Coach Kannan spotted her and he was the one who helped us and helped with the training of Revathy.
Arammal calls Revathy’s trainer his god. “He’s the one who brought and gave Revathy shoes and he’s the one who convinced us to send Revathy to training.”
Revathy’s grandmother remembers how the coach helped change her mindset as well. Arammal, speaking to the media, said that she always asks her granddaughter to focus on her studies and that she worries about the girl playing sports.
Revathy also remembers the support of his trainer. “Coach Kannan spotted me running with no shoes on and he got it for me. He also made sure I got a place in college and his training got me. helped win medals in college. “
Revathy works as a Travel Ticket Examiner (TTE) in Indian Railways and the reason behind this is also her grandmother. From a young age, Revathy’s grandmother encouraged the two children (Revathy and his younger sister) to focus on their studies.
When Revathy wanted to choose academics over track and field career
Revathi Veeramani (Photo PTI)
Tamil Nadu Sports Development Authority Coach Kannan who first spotted Revathy during a meet at the zone where Revathy ran without shoes. He asked the little girl to join in his coaching.
Kannan recalls: “She said she wouldn’t show up and wanted to study. So I gathered her contact details and spoke to her grandmother. Her grandmother also refused and the family. wanted to focus on Revathy’s studies. “
Kannan then helped Revathy secure a seat at Kamaraj College in Madurai under the sports quota and began training him there.
In 2006, at the Asian Games in Doha, Revathi represented India and placed fourth. This time, the young athlete from Tamil Nadu is confident to secure a medal at the Olympics.
“I am very happy that she is selected for the Olympics and I have no doubts that my granddaughter will make Madurai, Tamil Nadu and India proud. I thank Coach Kannan for offering his advice and support to Revathy and without him she won’t be her, “Arammal said.
Subha and Dhanalakshmi looking for government jobs
While Revathy has found a job for herself, the same cannot be said for the other two athletes. The stories of Subha Venkataraman and Dhanalakshmi Sekhar, both from Trichy District, always speak of struggle.
Subha Venkataraman, while talking about her athletic background, said that she started her athletic career at a very young age and even moved to a hostel in Chennai to train.
“I won 20 medals at the national championship and have been training at Patiala for five years,” Sudha said.
Out of the 8 international meetings in which Sudha participated, she won three medals. The athlete who wants to win a medal at the Olympics appeals to the government for help in finding a job.
Sudha said: “I’ve been trying to find a job for many years now, but I haven’t gotten one yet. I ask the state government to help me find a job.
Dhanalakshmi Sekhar too, like the other two girls, comes from a disadvantaged background. The young sportswoman was mainly supported by her mother.
Thanking her coaches and family members for their support, Dhanalakshmi said, “My mother struggled a lot to get me to this place and I will make her proud of herself and the country and win a medal.
Like Subha, Dhanalakshmi also struggles to find a job. The athlete said he needed at least Rs 20,000 to compete. “If I find a job, I will cover my own expenses,” Dhanalakshmi said.
These young women who will represent India on the world stage have been promised an incentive of Rs 5 lakh by the TN government. Besides these three women, two other athletes – S Arokya Rajiv and Naganathan Pandi who were selected for the men’s 4x400m relay will also receive this government incentive.