Tamil Nadu’s first woman athlete to be conferred the Arjuna Award, V. Anusuya Bai, is getting ready for life after an illustrious sporting career and a nearly 40-year stint as a personnel officer in the Railways.

Ms. Anusuya, whose sporting feats include a national 100 metres record that went unchallenged for 14 years and representing the Asian continent at the first World Athletics Championship in Dusseldorf, West Germany (1977), retires as Deputy Chief Personnel Officer (Welfare), Southern Railway, on Friday.

“I am a bit overwhelmed by the show of affection from my colleagues. I am carrying home so many memories from the sports tracks and my workplace…these memories will remain embedded in my mind” she said.

When she ran informal races with her friends at the Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar Higher Secondary school Ambattur, she never imagined that one day she would take up a career in athletics, said Ms. Anusuya, who was born and bred in Chennai though her roots are in Andhra Pradesh. Even though she continued to participate in collegiate sports events at Ethiraj College, she missed a coach who could hone her raw talent.

Her fortunes changed when she took the field as a dark horse in the All-India Inter University Championship at Jaipur (1971) and powered her way to win gold in the 400 metres and shot put. She credits her first coach Beulah Moses for honing her technique.

Suprisingly, in her first international outing — the World University Games, Moscow, 1973 — she excelled with the discus and not the sprint. Though she ended up with a ranking of 16, her discus throw did create a new inter-university record. Her biggest haul was the four gold medals she bagged at the athletics meet in 1976 in Pakistan.

After being nominated as government observer, Ms. Anusuya has accompanied the Indian teams to several global events..

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