What does it take to bring up a history-making olympic swimmer? this is the story of single mother v j shantymol's sweat, tears, sacrifice in pursuit of a dream seemingly beyond her reach
While Sajan was younger and chiselling his stroke-movement in Bangalore needing his mother Shantymol to make overnight km journeys every weekend from her home in Neyveli, she carried torches routinely in her duffel bag to help bus drivers fix punctures on unlit, potholed ro.
The state transport buses would routinely stop because the roadworks on that route was bad due to tyre punctures.
Sajan was raised by a single mother, an athlete herself who raced the m, m sprints at the World and Asian Juniors. She married inSajan was born inand her husband abandoned them a year later. But his father left us. Frankly, it was for the best Single mom india he never returned.
What Shantymol could afford for her son were adjunct facilities for children of workers like her at the thermal power site.
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There was a swimming pool, an indoor stadium at the township, and a 3-year-old Sajan started swimming in summer vacations, before things got serious at age Shantymol remembers a naughty kid till age 10 who wanted a shiny battery car which cost half her salary. Sabi Sebastien was a proficient coach at the Neyveli township, as Sajan started bringing home medals.
The former India camper from who picked four medals at the Inter University, remembers suffering from acute bouts of dehydration, scary vitamin deficiencies and in subsequent years when she started travelling 11 hours in the buses to Bangalore, from health issues of a battered spine. Munching on fruits to patch her health back and learning to patch up bus tyres is what she remembers of those times.
Elite swimming had been the preserve of the rich in Bangalore, and Shantymol recalls cutting out every luxury from her life to ensure that Sajan could fit in. The mother hoping to fix meals for Sajan when she travelled to Bangalore, braved the ramshackle buses. Sajan would first land a job with the Railways even as he staked claim on 5 national records over several seasons.
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His job in Bangalore entailed standing long hours at the yards and checking every bogey of seven trains decamping there. He had settled for a small scooter to go to work, his only indulgence. Shantymol would, alongside all this, her own track career in the Masters category and take young Sajan along everywhere. A constant source of support, she would also travel to Thailand and Dubai where Sajan got homesick over extended stints.
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But I made sure he got nutritious food through his childhood. She feels tired now, though. School level, pre degree, state, national. Inthe destructing floods of South India played havoc in Neyveli too.
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The traumatic memory of what happened to her tiniest of quarters le to what is now her biggest dream. While Sajan would Kerala Police after a six-medal splash at the Nationals, the second-time Olympian faced some dark times — even having to sell a medal once for a sum of Rs 3 lakh, as tickets and visa to an international competition ate into his entire salary.
The trophy sits in the Kerala Sports Council showcase. Needing His childhood got crystallised into the unspoken discipline that only an athlete can pass onto her children.
She always knew how difficult it was to reach goals, so she drilled discipline into me without me realising it was a strict life. He recalls the testing times when Shantymol kept him in the hunt despite having little access to financial cushioning.
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It was what VJ Shantymol packed into her duffel all those years ago — three torchlights and lo of attitude. Shivani Naik Must Read. Home Olympics Single mom raising an Olympian: Through hell and high water Single mom raising an Olympian: Through hell and high water What does it take to bring up a history-making Olympic swimmer?
This is the story of single mother V J Shantymol's sweat, tears, sacrifice in pursuit of a dream seemingly beyond her reach. Written by Shivani Naik Updated: July 17, pm.
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