Image Credit: Southern Railway/Twitter
A total of 12 athletes from Tamil Nadu across four sports have qualified for the biggest sports competition in the world -- Tokyo Olympics. Among them is sprinter Revathi Veeramani. She hails from Sakkimangalam village in Madurai. Her journey is a highly inspirational one, as you will soon find out.
From Tamil Nadu to Tokyo
Veeramani and her younger sister were orphaned at a very tender age. Both were raised by their maternal grandmother K Arammal, who was a daily wage worker at farms and brick kilns. Veeramani found herself being drawn to sprinting events. However, whenever she would seek permission from her grandmother to participate in such events, her requests were always turned down.
Lap of love
Veeramani's grandmother would fear that the kids would fall down and hurt themselves while running. How could she allow her dear grandkids to get hurt like that? So she always said no. And life continued. Their grandmother always had a better future for them in mind and worked towards her goal of educating the siblings despite struggling to make ends meet.
The struggles continue
How could a loving grandmother, who barely had enough to earn one meal, possibly fulfill the high targets she had set for herself? When push came to shove, she had to harden her heart and leave her dear granddaughters under the care of a government-run hostel, where they spent their years from second to twelfth grade. She would only get to meet her sweethearts once a month, but that was not top priority.
No shoes? No problem!
When Veeramani was in twelfth grade, she participated in a 100-metre race at the MGR Race Course Stadium in Madurai. She ran barefoot because she had no shoes. Her stellar performance ended up impressing K Kannan, coach at the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. He decided to train her.
Her grandmother was initially hesitant fearing the expenses involved, and politely declined his offer. But after persistent attempts, she gave in. Coach Kannan had finally convinced her of Veeramani's ability to go places. He helped with the expenses and also provided them with food and accommodation. He was also instrumental in securing a seat for her at Lady Doak College in Madurai.
Back in 2006, Veeramani represented India at the Asian Games (Doha), where she was placed fourth. Other achievements:
Over to Patiala
Veeramani trained with Coach Kannan from 2016-2019 for 100m and 200m events. Her winning streak earned her a place at the national camp in the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala. At the NIS, she was taken under the wing of her new coach, Galina Bukharina, who encouraged her to switch to 400m events. She also picked up Hindi during her training stint at Patiala.
Trials and triumphs
In November 2020, she had to stay away from the running tracks for a few months owing to aggravating knee pain. A tough phase ensued after she was advised strict bed rest. Her physiotherapist, Simoni Shah, nursed her back on track. On July 4, she clocked 53.55 seconds in a 400m dash at the Indian Grand Prix 4 -- thereby securing her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics!
Did you know?
Besides being an athlete, Veeramani is also a Commercial Clerk and Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) in the Madurai division of Southern Railways.
Her sister is a police officer in Chennai. Thanks to her grandmother's love and Coach Kannan's care, the Veeramani sisters are rocking it.
Sify salutes them all. Here's to more accolades! That's our Madurai girl. Attagirl, Revathi!