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She's been at it

When the Asian Grand Prix Athletic Championship unfurls the best of Asian talent at the brand new stadium in Gachibowli, all eyes will be on K.M.Beenamol. Hyderabad just might prove lucky for this lanky girl from Kerala, writes ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA.


STEP AHEAD: On a winning track. Photos: The Hindu Archives

SPORTS MAY be all about the pursuit of physical excellence but the mind and spirit play an equally important role in the making of a champion. In recent times, K.M. Beenamol is perhaps one of the best examples of an athlete being able to overcome psychological pressure and give her best under challenging circumstances.

Beenamol along with several other leading athletes of India will be seen in action when the Asian Grand Prix Athletic Championship 2002 is held at the newly constructed athletics stadium on May 18.

Over the years Kerala has produced several well known track athletes especially in the women's section such as Valsamma, P.T. Usha, Shiny Wilson and Rosa Kutty to name a few. The latest in the long line of stars is K.M. Beenamol who is keeping alive a long and praiseworthy tradition of this State.

One of her biggest achievements came during the Sydney Olympic Games in September 2000. Overall, the Olympics were a big disappointment for Indian athletics fans.


Determined Beenamol

Amidst the gloom and despair, the lanky girl from Kerala was the only one who kept the country's flag flying by qualifying for the semi finals of the women's 400 metres race. In addition to her sterling physical and mental qualities she now has obtained international level exposure, which should stand her in good stead when she takes part in the Grand Prix meet here.

At the Hyderabad meet, her main rivalry is likely to be with the talented Sri Lankan runner Damayanthi Darsha. Sri Lanka has made rapid progress in recent times in track events and Damayanthi Darsha along with Susanthika Jayasinghe, is one of the best products of this island nation. Two years ago during the Asian championship at Jakarta, Damayanthi had beaten Beenamol in the final of the women's 400 metres by a very narrow margin of less than half a second. But since then Beenamol has put in a lot of hard work and dedicated training and this time at Hyderabad it could be the other way round.

However Beenamol also has to be prepared to overcome a stiff fight from Alena Petrova of Turkmenistan and Svetlana Borditskaya of Kazakhstan. These two runners have also posted creditable timings and could pose a major threat to both Beenamol and Damayanthi.

But if Hyderabad does prove to be Beenamol's lucky venue and she comes up with a gold medal, or better still, a new record, then that would be truly an auspicious beginning for the new stadium, which will be inaugurated during this meet. Fans of athletics in Hyderabad have not had the opportunity to watch international stars in action in their own city mainly due to the lack of top class infrastructure including a synthetic track.

The Gachibowli stadium will now fulfill this need and it is hoped that in future, Hyderabad will also be a venue for top-level national and international athletic events.

And the best beginning that the stadium could have in its first ever meet would be a triumph for Beenamol and other Indians taking part here.

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