The golden girls

Published Jul 2, 2019, 12:27 am IST
Updated Jul 2, 2019, 12:27 am IST
Six women athletes from Telangana — all above the age of 40 — recently struck gold at the first National Women’s Masters Athletic Championship in Goa.
(L-R) Jacqueline Babitha Xavier, Divya Reddy, Indu Harikumar, Rachel Chatterji, Kruti Kadakia and Suma LizPaniker
 (L-R) Jacqueline Babitha Xavier, Divya Reddy, Indu Harikumar, Rachel Chatterji, Kruti Kadakia and Suma LizPaniker

It’s not easy being an athlete, especially with age playing a major factor for most. It’s even rarer to find a woman over the age of 40 who is still earning her corn as an athlete. But six women athletes from Telangana have proved that age is indeed just a number.

Still in amazing shape, these energetic women athletes from Telangana have made the state proud by winning medals in various categories at the first National Women’s Masters Athletic Championship, which wrapped up on Sunday in Goa.


The sports meet saw a participation of over 700 women athletes from 17 states across India. Meanwhile, all six women from the state are currently training for the upcoming Asian Masters meet in Kuala Lumpur in December, where they will be representing India.

Speaking about different aspects of their training as well as the challenges they faced, these woman dynamos have now set their sights firmly on their next goal.

Divya Reddy, 40+
I’ve been training for the Masters Athletics for about eight months now. Since I come from a marathon-running background, switching to short sprints was initially tough. Many even advised me against it, warning me about fractures and permanent tears. But with my coach, Rajasekhar Kalivenkata’s precise training plans, proper strengthening and nutrition, I started working on my speed. Workouts were twice daily - tough and gut-busting. Mornings were speed-work and plyometrics while evenings were weights and drills. Gym workouts were geared towards overall body strengthening and not just the legs. I had to learn to listen to my body for any signals of injury.


Closer to the event, we narrowed down on 400m to be my key distance. Workouts became more specific at this point. I also started working out with spiked shoes on a synthetic track.  This grueling training needed considerable recovery which was hard to manage while balancing full-time work, family and home. I learned to take power naps whenever I could. There was constant monitoring of resting heart rate to prevent over-training. Eating the right food at the right time, and sleeping and waking early takes a lot of discipline and sacrificing of social gatherings. But God’s grace and my family’s support helped me every single day. These wins are as much theirs as mine.


Indu Harikumar, 50+
I felt young and alive amidst our awe-inspiring athletes of the older age group. My fitness regime is a simple daily routine of short runs and strength exercises and my passion for outdoor activities including hiking, swimming and gardening. My coaches have been my teammates and competitors so far. The event exposed me to the immense grit, fitness and power of all the women out there. They have inspired me to up my training even further! I feel we should have such events to showcase our Naari Shakti. Kudos to women power!


Rachel Chatterjee, 65+
The National Women’s Masters Athletic Championship was an event I couldn’t miss. Though I heard about it only a month before, I decided to try my luck. My friend Kruti and I started training together with our coach, Suresh. Running on a track is very different from running on the road for marathons, and poses different challenges. More than endurance which is a prime requirement for marathons, power and speed are crucial for track events. So training was geared around these two aspects. Our gang of six did a great job - every single one of us came back with a medal! It was an exceptional learning experience. And we had a great time together in Goa, forged friendships which will last a lifetime. We are now all geared up to train more seriously for the Asian Masters, and to do the country proud!


Kruti Kadakia, 40+
It was my first experience and I had just two weeks of training, thanks to my coach Suresh who trained me on such short notice. The experience was fabulous and the best part was that I loved the team spirit of my group for relay and that we learned so much from one another. The Championship was well organised and I learned the spirit of living it up through this event where age was just a number. It event was pure hard work, dedication and discipline.

Jacqueline Babitha Xavier, 45+
As a running coach/trainer with limited time on hand, coupled with juggling between home and attending to my clients, I hardly get time to train myself. I can only train about twice a week while I focus on strength training for the remaining days.  Participating in this first National Women’s Masters Athletic meet was an awesome experience. It’s inspiring to watch the senior women running tall with grit and determination to win the shining metal of glory.