For 36-year old Vasanthi Anand from Tamil Nadu, life has been quite the roller-coaster ride.
As reported by The Times of India, She will run the 5000-meter run, half marathon and steeplechase at the World Masters Athletic Championship to be held at Malaga in Spain this September.
Originally a native of Thuraiyur in Tiruchirapalli district, she moved to Coimbatore a decade ago, with her husband, Anand, and two kids, Manikandan and Kiruthika, studying in 12th and 10th standard respectively.
Her husband is a private bus driver in the city, and to meet the family’s financial needs, she worked as a domestic help in houses, and washed dishes at a restaurant, she told the publication.
It was then that coach Vairavanathan spotted her, and began training her.
The coach spoke of her encouragingly and said that she would come to the Nehru stadium to drop off her children, who were training in athletics. That’s when he spotted her and figured she could run long-distance.
So, for the annual summer camp in April-May last year, authorities asked Vasanthi to help with organising food at the summer camp. In her spare time, she trained.
Vasanthi quickly started showing promise and began training soon after. She ran at the district-level championship at Bharathiar University, and then the state-level meet at the Tamil Nadu Masters Athletics Association.
Soon, more glory followed–silver medals in the 5000-metre run and half marathon, and gold medal in steeplechase at the national-level Master’s Athletic Federation of India.
September will see her training hard to represent the country. It has indeed been a commendable effort in one year, rounds off the coach.
Vasanthi herself has slogged all through 2017. She spoke of her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when the coach asked if he could train her. She was a bit reluctant, even hesitant to wear shorts while running.
She is on a steady training plan now. She comes to Nehru Stadium by 6 am every day to practice until 8 a.m. She also trains for another 2 hours, from 5 pm to 7 p.m. at the stadium. She is on a strict diet, one which includes juice, almonds, dry fruits and dates.
She stopped working as a domestic help due to the packed schedule and is now only focused on her journey as an athlete. Vasanthi will set foot abroad for the first time and is a little nervous but is grateful to her husband who is making ends meet, and being a pillar of support. She notes that he was a runner during his youth too.
Once again, the only barrier that Vasanthi faces is sponsorship and support. She realises her journey is not a cakewalk and she knows she is unable to afford expensive sportswear, or follow a healthy diet. Her coach paints a rather difficult picture when he shares that she requires sponsors even to make it to the event in Spain.
From washing dishes to competing at the international level, and consistently moving forward, Tamil Nadu’s Vasanthi is overcoming life’s hurdles, slowly but surely!
Those wishing to contribute to her cause, can contact her coach on:- 9042889888.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)