Indian Sprinter From Tamil Nadu's Madurai, Revathi Veeramani, has qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after bagging medals at the camp set up for the Olympic-bound athletes at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS) in Punjab on Sunday, July 4.
She clocked 53.55 seconds, bagging the first position in the 400m run, against her competitors, Subha Venkataraman and Dhanalakshmi Sekhar. The 24-year-old will represent India in the 4x400m mixed relay.
She is one of the three women from the state who will represent the country in the relay race in Tokyo.
Struggling To Meet Ends
If Veeramani could be described in one word, it would be resilient. Her story of triumph against all challenges she faced in life has won the hearts of people.
The 24-year-old and her sister were orphaned early and spent their formative years with her grandmother, Arammal, in Madurai. Poverty surrounded them, as the grandmother worked as a daily wager.
The relatives used to ask the grandmother to send the girls to carry bricks and work in the fields due to her old age. But Arammal made sure the girls received an education. However, she could not afford to pay for the co-curricular activities.
The girls resided at a government hostel from their second grade until completing their 12th grade.
Coach Changed Veeramani's Life
Veeramani's took part in various school-level track events, but during Class 12th, she participated in the zonal-level competition when athletics Coach Kannan recognised her talent. She ran barefoot in the competition. When Kannan approached her for training, she said she wouldn't run further and wished to complete her studies.
He later collected her details from the school administration and approached the grandmother, confronted her about young Veeramani's talent. He sought permission to coach her. However, Arammal refused to encourage her granddaughter due to financial constraints.
Kannan offered Veeramani free training at the Sports Development Authority stadium at Race Course. Still, she refused as she could not afford the daily transport expense from her home to the stadium.
He then enrolled her at the Lady Doak College through the sports quota and got free hostel accommodation, making it easy for her to visit the stadium for training.
In addition, he helped her sister get a job at the police department and extended financial aid to the family.
"It was Kannan Sir who dreamt that I could make it to the Olympics, provided I worked hard," The Hindu quoted Veeramani as saying.
Speaking to the media, Kannan said that he did not want the 24-year-old's talent to go to waste. "I was able to find out her talent because my coaches have trained so many sportspersons, and I still seek guidance from my coaches. Once, when my coach Rajan came to visit me in Madurai, he was the one who persuaded me to encourage Revathy for the 400m relay. That is how she started running relays," he told The News Minute.
Job At Railways
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).
The sprinter has represented the country at the Asian Games held in Doha in 2006, claiming fourth place. Speaking to the media, Veeramani said she has been focussing on bringing the gold medal home from the Olympics.
The department lauded Veeramani for qualifying for the international competition.