Back on her feet
Gold medallist, Udayalaxmi is hoping to forget the past and make a fresh start
Photo: V.V. Subrahmanyam
Shaping up (From left)Rami Reddy, Udayalaxmi and J. J. Shobha
It was one of the most pleasant sights the other day at Railway Recreation Grounds in Secunderabad when double Olympian, J.J. Shobha, 2011 Jharkhand National Games gold medallist, Peddimedi Udayalaxmi and SCR athletics coach Rami Reddy were sharing a few thoughts on the current sports scenario. Incidentally, SCR officials unveiled big plans of upgrading sports infrastructure at the venue on the same day.
Udayalaxmi is one of the major surprises in the recent past in the Indian athletics scenario from Andhra Pradesh. For someone who was dropped following alleged drug abuse during the 2002 National Games in Hyderabad, Udayalaxmi staged one of the most stunning comebacks by any athlete in recent times.
Just when everyone had written her off following that phase, which Udayalaxmi describes as the most traumatic one of her career, she won the shot-put gold in the Jharkhand National Games.
“It was one of the most memorable moments. No one gave me a chance to be back in the competitive circuit and honestly not many supported me when I was down and out,” recalls a poignant Udayalaxmi. “I am indebted to Manik Reddy and Malla Reddy of SM Labs for their support when I was desperate to come back to athletics,” she recalls.
At 37, Udayalaxmi, eight-gold medallist at the National level in the last 17 years in different events including heptathlon, 400 m and 400 m hurdles, was initially keen to run in the 400 m events again.
But on the advice of Railways coach and former national champion, Rami Reddy, she shifted her focus to shot-put.
“I am keen to compete for two more years. All I dream now is to break the National shot-put record of Harbans Kaur (15 m) and chase another bigger dream of representing the country in the Olympics,” says Udayalaxmi, even while reminding that she is aware of that Olympic qualification can well be the most daunting task for her
“I just don't want to discuss anything about that issue (drug abuse episode). It was a scary past which still haunts me. Let me look ahead now,” insists the Technician in Lallaguda SCR Workshop who's keen to sign off on a high, at least in Indian athletics with the support of her husband Vijay Bhaskar (Inspector in Central Excise) to give a gift to her young daughter Sai Satya Gayatri.
Back in the training mode under the watchful guidance of Rami Reddy for the next big event for her – the Indian Open athletics will meet this September — Udayalaxmi wants to compete for two more years before calling it a day.
V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM
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