Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Shanthi - A silver medallist's tale of rags to riches

Pudukkottai: Only a very few in Pudukkottai district knew that a village called ‘Kathakkurichi' existed, but now the village had become the centre of discussion with S Shanthi, winning the silver medal in the 800 metres event at the ongoing Doha Asian Games.

Hailing from Kathakkurichi village, S Shanthi was born to a poor family. But her poverty never came as a hurdle to her rise as a talented runner on the track, which was reflected in the Doha Asian Games, where she brought laurels to her village.

Not only the village, but the whole of Tamil Nadu rejoiced her victory.

At Shanthi's house the atmosphere is exuberant. The road leading to her house is converged with her well-wishers and mediapersons.

Her parents M Soundararajan (61) and S Manimekalai (48) are delighted at their daughter's feat.

Full coverage: Doha Asian Games 2006

''My daughter had brought laurels not only to the family, but also to the nation'' he proudly said.

Though Soundararajan's forefathers had settled in Sri Lanka, he returned to India during 1974s and settled down in this village.

Till recently, both Soundararajan and his wife Manimekalai were labourers in a brick kiln. But, poor health had forced them to stay indoors and currently their livelihood depended on the little money, they earn by rearing two cows, that too brought with the financial assistance of Rs one lakh sanctioned by former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha as a gesture for Shanthi’s medal winning performance in the National Athletics Meet.

For Shanthi her late grandfather, a veteran athlete in Sri Lanka, was her inspiration. His motivated and encouraged her to take athletics seriously from her young age. From tenth standard she actively started participating in district-level sport meets under the guidance of her school physical education teachers.

Shanti's interest in sports was never limited to one discipline.

She displayed immense interest and keenness in hockey, javelin throw, high jump and long jump.

Though her forte was sports, her academics never lagged behind.

She had completed Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and is presently pursuing Post-Graduation in Chennai.

To her credit, Shanthi had won a lot of medals in different events in numerous state-level and national meets.

For the seven-member family, which included her parents and four siblings, Shanthi's sports career had been a blessing as the family at crisis depended on the cash rewards she received after winning many events.

''Presently, Shanthi's success and hard work had inspired my younger daughter Sarala and son Devendran. They have taken up sports seriously and are practising a lot,'' Soudararajan said.

He said the family was thankful to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi and the state government for rewarding Rs 15 lakh for their daughter's achievement.

He appealed to the Chief Minister to provide Shanthi with a government job.

Though the Doha Games never caught the attention of the people in Pudukkottai, now the entire district is awaiting eagerly to see the 1500 metres event at Doha Asian Games on December 14, in which Shanthi would be participating.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Pandian R said...

really this is a wonderful news for us, pudukkottai-ans. We are really sad because she had won many medals, and she could not get proper recognition from government. I wish she shud be given a decent job, that will encourage her thro' out the stream.


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