At 72, this Chennai resident wins big in Master’s Athletics

CHENNAI: Lalitha N is not an ordinary woman you would come across. A retired Tamil teacher from a private school in Nanganallur, this 72-year-old woman has won the third place in 1500 metre in the 21st Asia Masters Athletic Championship held at Malaysia recently in the 70 plus category.

She qualified for the final after winning third place in 4X100 metre relay, first place in 4X400 metre relay and fourth place in 800 metre running. For Lalitha, age is not a bar in the road to trump in life. “I have been an active participant in sporting events during schooling. I took part in all contests. However, I could not take it forward as life took different turns. No one encouraged me either. I got married and was employed,” she recounts.

On seeing people scaling greater heights, Lalitha was determined to make a mark despite being old. “My second daughter Jayashree is the one who stood by and encouraged me throughout this journey. I walk from 5.30 am to 7 am at the Voltas Colony park every day,” Lalitha, who is also a member of Master Athletes Association, Chennai district, adds.

Her interest was sparked when Jayashree, who holds a masters’ degree in physical education and a sports person by herself, took her mother and made her participate in the district-level event in December.

Despite her regular life, Lalitha ensured that she walks every morning and does yoga every day. These are the two practices that she religiously follows even now and does not want to stop. She has been practicing for the finale for about 1.5 years.

“Whenever I walk, neighbours and passers-by recognise and encourage me to win the first place in the next event,” the septuagenarian smiles. It is her perseverance towards working out in her capacity that has brought her awards and accolades. Lalitha does not stop here. She further plans to walk fast.

“Since I am going to contest in athletics, mere walking is not enough. I should at least increase the pace to clinch a place in tournaments,” she quips immediately.

She further tells that she is fit and fine and does not have any geriatric troubles like others. Having earned a name, this Hindu Colony resident is tenacious to participate in the 2021 Asian Master Athletes and win the gold medal. Lalitha feels that senior citizens should be active instead of confining in one place.

Bhavani Prabhakar