Cheers break out at Preeja’s home

Sunday, November 21, 2010

PALAKKAD - The prayers of Preeja Sreedharan’s mother have been answered. As Preeja breasted the tape to win the gold in the women’s 10,000 meters at the Asian Games, her mother was on her way back from a prayer home.

At her home near here, it was her brother Pradip and his friends who were watching TV anxiously and cheers broke out as they witnessed her victory.

Speaking to IANS, Pradip said the good news had been passed on to his mother.

“Today (Sunday) morning, she had left for the prayer session at Muringur in Trissur district and as soon as Preeja won the medal, I spoke to mother and told her and she could not control her happiness,” he said.

After Preeja’s lacklustre performance at the October 3-14 Delhi Commonwealth Games, the mood was a little tense at her house as her well-wishers gathered to witness her performance.

“She has not come home for the past two years as she was busy training in Bangalore. We occasionally go there to meet her. Just before the race, she had called and I told her not to worry and to do her best,” said Pradip.

Ahead of the event, things were dicey for Preeja because there were three other athletes who had a better timing than her personal best timing.

But she surprised everyone by clocking a new personal best timing of 31:50.47 seconds to win the first athletics gold medal for India on the opening day of the competition.

Haling from a very poor family, Preeja lost her father two decades ago and it was her mother who struggled to bring up the family.

It was sheer determination, hard work and full support from her family and her teachers that Preeja managed to reach this level. The turning point in her career came when she was in class 9 and her coach Renachandran was transferred to another school but offered to accommodate Preeja at his home and train her.

After obtaining a degree and on account of her excellent performance, Indian Railways offered her job as a clerk in the Palakkad railway division.

Four years ago, she got a railway quarter at Palakkad and her mother and Pradip’s family moved out from their dilapidated home in Idukki to live with her.

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