By Venkatachari JagannathanChennai, July 9 : Twenty one year old Subha Venkatesan from Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirappalli is one classic example to the philosophy of sporting tracks ‘catch them young so that other runners can’t catch up with them’.
She is also an example as to how the family elders can catalyse a young child into sports.
Subha, who set the track on fire in the junior category at the Asian level is bound to the Tokyo Olympics as part of India’s 4×400 mixed relay-two men and two women.
Interestingly, the 4×400 mixed relay will make its debut in the Tokyo Olympics which has taken the Indian team’s confidence to a higher level.
“It was my ‘thatha’ (grandfather) who was instrumental in getting me into running and supported by my mother.I owe my success to my thatha,” Subha told IANS.
Her maternal grandfather Sangilimuthu was in the state police department and had participated in the sporting events during his younger days.
Born into a poor family – father Venkatesan a construction worker and mother Poongodi a homemaker- as the third child Subha has an elder sister and brother.
None of Subha’s siblings were into competitive sports for her to get inspired.
“I used to participate in the school races.Thatha used to encourage me.My mother also agreed with Thatha and supported me.Appa didn’t say anything against my running but wanted me to study well,” Subha now doing her BBA course recalled.
In this cricket crazy country, her father is also right in a way as education is the passport out of poverty for non-cricketers as one has to really excel in sport putting in hard work to achieve something which may get a government job.
Further the initial expenses involved are huge for sports persons hailing from poor families largely on hand-to-mouth existence.
“Those were difficult days for the family.My brother-in-law (elder sister’s husband) used to help by gifting some gear,” Subha recalls about her school days in Tiruchirappalli.
Subha got her first good shoe while she was in 7th grade by that time, she had won several races.
She did her schooling in the Boiler Plant Middle School in BHEL township in Tiruvembur in Tiruchirappalli.Power plant equipment major BHEL has its boiler plant in Tiruchirappalli.
Subha later shifted to Bentinck Higher Secondary School in Chennai as she got selected to the Centre of Excellence, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu.
As to her track achievements, this young Tiruchirappalli lass has 20 national medals, eight international participations, three medals in the Asian juniors events.
Subha was later selected for the national camp in Patiala for seniors team for the past five years.
“No, I don’t get homesick.Initially when I was studying at Bentinck Higher Secondary School, I felt homesick.But not after that.
We get vacation once a year and I go home then,” Subha said.
Crediting her coach Indira for her achievements on the track, Subha said it was she who put in a lot of effort.
At Patiala she and her team mates are being trained by Russian-American coach Galina Bukharana.
“We do a lot of running workouts, weights and power track-running while pulling a 25kg weight plate-uphill running.We do several sets of running.We train in the morning and evening,” Subha said.
Her team mates had told IANS that they are also practicing baton exchange.
As it is going to be a mixed relay, the team is planning to have the men as the first and last runners to give the fast start and finish and the women as second and third runners to gain further on the initial advantage.
Focused on her running, Subha said she is not like any other girls of her age interested in movies and other things.
“I don’t watch movies,” she said.
As an athlete who started early and who was caught by the sports authorities at a young age Subha said: “One can spot the talent and nurse it when a girl is in fifth class.But she has to be taken forward in a gradual manner, failing which the burn out will be very fast.”
According to her, the 25-30 age band is the sprinting period for a woman.
Meanwhile, her next target will be the upcoming Asian and Commonwealth Games.
“I am also trying for a job,” she added.
A medal in Olympics will have many chasing her with job and sponsorship offers.
And hopes are on the team to catch an Olympic medal.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected]