Mysuru: When Rekha started bringing her daughter for athletics training at the University of Mysore Athletics Ground known as Oval Ground three years ago, she did not know that one day she might be competing as an athlete. The 39-year-old tailor who had neither professional training nor any sports history won several medals for India in her first International Masters Athletic Meet held in Colombo recently.
Her athletic journey began as one of her friends introduced her to coach D S Ravi. To beat the boredom of waiting for her daughter’s training to end, Rekha started walking around the ground. Her friend Saroja, who is a former national level athlete, noticed her talent and introduced her to coach Ravi. Impressed with her strength and sports aptitude, Ravi advised Rekha to practice for a few throwing events. Within few months of practice, Rekha considerably improved her technique and skills in the hammer throw, shot put and discus throw.
This impressed Rekha’s coach Ravi who told her to take part in the state masters athletics meet. At the state level competitions held in Bengaluru, she won three medals including one gold and two bronze medals. She secured gold in hammer throw and also a bronze in shotput and discus throw events.
This impressive performance earned her a place to compete at the national level and won several medals. Due to her superb performance at the national level, she was selected for the International Masters’ Athletic Meet held at Colombo.
When she reached Colombo for the international competition, Rekha suffered from jet lag and fell sick. Despite this adversity, with encouragement from fellow athletes, she competed in three events. In her maiden appearance at the international competition, Rekha showed her prowess by winning gold medals in hammer throw and shotput competition and a silver in the discus throw.
Speaking to Newskarnataka about her sports journey, Rekha said, “Though I did not have much experience in sports, the excellent guidance by my coach Ravi, encouragement by friend Saroja, my husband Mahadeva Swamy and daughter Prajwala helped me to achieve success.”
The modest earnings of her husband from his small business and her tailoring could not support the costs of training and travel. Here, the Mysore District Masters Athletics Association supported her. “I also want to thank Mysuru District Masters’ Athletic Association for their support,” she said with gratitude in her eyes. Secretary of Mysore District Masters Athletic Association Satyanarayana, congratulated Rekha for her stellar achievement at the international meet.
Her coach D S Ravi is the Physical Education Director at St. Philomena’s Degree College. The former University of Mysore athletic coach was all praise for her too. “It’s a really a great achievement for a novice to win medals at the international level, that too competing for the first time! It was her hard work and dedication that won her the medals. She has a bright prospect and has potential to win more gold medals in national and international events,” he said. The coach was confident that she has the ability to win medals at the world level.
Rekha too shares the same confidence of her coach. When asked about her future ambitions in athletics, she said, “I would like to participate in the World Masters’ Athletic Meet. I want to win more medals and bring laurels to the country and the state. If I get some financial assistance from sponsors, I can achieve much more in this sport.”