A cashew factory labourer-turned-woman athlete who seeks sponsors to take part in int’l event

Kollam (Ker), May 19 (PTI) If anybody asks this slender woman how did you take up athletics at the age of 30, she would give an infectious smile first and then reply, “Life made me an athlete.” While she walked and ran to reach work sites on time since her younger days, the woman never thought that she would ever become an athlete one day and win medals in open meets in and outside the country in these categories.

Sheeba, a cashew worker and domestic help-turned-athlete from Kerala, who represented the country in various World Masters Athletics meets and garnered medals and accolades.

Hailing from Mayyanad in this southern district, the 38-year old woman is now on another run in life to find a sponsor for the upcoming Asian Masters Athletics Championship scheduled to be held in the Philippines in November this year.

Though the event is a few months away, she is yet to find Rs 1.5 lakh to enable her participate in the international meet.

“As the government does not recognise athletics in the masters’ category, we have to find money on our own for participation. I could participate in similar meets held in four countries before and in various Indian states with the support of noble-minded people,” Sheeba told PTI.

Last year, the woman athlete had won medals in 400 metres relay race and 3,000 metres walk during the national masters athletic events held in West Bengal, thus qualifying for the Asian Masters Championship.

A mother of two, Sheeba has been working in a cashew factory for years and also as a domestic help in some households to make both ends meet.

“After completing the household chores, I would go to the factory. Then, with the permission of the employer there, I would leave early in the evening and work as a domestic help in some nearby houses. So, my life itself is a race,” she said with a smile.

She said she would manage to find time amidst this busy schedule for daily practice also.

“When I practise wearing a tracksuit, people in the neighbourhood make fun of me, asking if she doesn’t have any other job at this age. But, I usually won’t take these negative comments to my heart,” she said.

A school dropout, the woman said she does not receive any desired support from the family to chase her dreams.

Sheeba said she had not participated in any sports events during her school days but since she stepped into the world of athletics somehow, it has been her passion and dream.

Despite the hardships, challenges and financial constraints, this woman is optimistic and positive about her participation in the upcoming event in the Philippines.

“Look at these medals and certificates…all I have won fighting all these hardships and challenges,” she said pointing to the heap of medals, trophies and certificates, stacked in gunny bags and kept at window panes in her humble home.

“So, I am sure a door will be opened before me this time also…and I will wear the Indian jersey and win medal(s) for the country in the international event,” Sheeba signed off.

Source: PTI News


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