Dominating Indian athletic scene for about a decade, Ms. Mujeetha Beegam's passion for long jump never ends, says SYED MUTHAHAR.
SHE HAS proved that any sportsperson with commitment and hard work can excel and win laurels. She is one of the very few Indian women athletes who had crossed the 6-metre mark in the long jump event.
Meet I. Mujeetha Beegam, who still loves her favourite sport and continues to have contact by coaching the youngsters at the Railway ground in Tiruchi City. "I am very happy that the younger generation is getting good opportunity and encouragement and patronage from the government", she shares her feelings on her successful career.
Dominating Indian athletic scene for about a decade, ever since she won the long jump title at the Bangalore nationals in 1989, her passion for this sport is never ending.
She also came out with a sterling performance the same year, clearing a distance of 6.14m to win the gold at the International Masters' Meet held at Thiruvananthapuram.
The highlight of her athletic career was her winning the silver medal at the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in Islamabad. Her grit and determination enabled her to be the Indian Railways champion in long jump for five consecutive years (1989-93), when she also represented the country in various meets. She has proved her mettle in 100m hurdles and also in the gruelling heptathlon.
Ms. Mujetha showed interest in athletics, in particular in long jump and 100m hurdles, right from childhood. Her talent came to limelight when she triumphed at the State-level school meets. She represented Calicut and Kerala Universities at the All India Inter-University Sports Meet on different occasions and came out with flying colours in both the events.
"It was Mr. Scariachan, Physical Education teacher of the Government Girls
School, Alathur near Palakkad, who spotted my talent and provided me all the encouragement", Ms. Mujetha recalls.
"The former international Mercy Kuttan managed to clear 6.29m in the long jump and for a long time no woman athlete could even clear the 6m mark. After many years I managed to cross the 6-metre mark at the Masters Meet and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. The 6.14m achievement was the second best long jump performance at the Masters Meet", she reminisces with a sense of satisfaction.
Confidence is something, which this athlete possesses in abundance. She underwent strenuous training in long jump under the renowned coaches, V. R. Beedu, former Olympian Suresh Babu and Radhakrishnan of Customs. "These three coaches helped me improve my performance", she says.
Ms. Mujetha is overjoyed at the achievement of Anju George at the international level. "Her continuous success will do a lot of good in motivating the younger generation. The encouragement she had received from the Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, is a big morale booster for sportspersons like her. She stands a better chance of winning a medal in the Athens Olympics if she managed to clear the 7m mark," Ms. Mujetha observed.
"In our times, there were no proper facilities. But now, the synthetic track laid at the Nehru Stadium, Chennai, thanks to the initiative taken by the Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa, has proved a boon to the State sportspersons. This facility and the support provided by the State government, has enabled Tamil Nadu to dominate in the athletic events at the national level".
Ms. Mujetha, employed as a senior clerk at the Office of Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, was full of praise for the various facilities and programmes being created and implemented by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) at the instance of its Member Secretary, P.W.C. Davidar.
"The setting up of the Sprint and Jump Academy at Madurai was the best thing to happen to the State athletics. The State will produce many international athletes with in a decade, if this system clicks. The SDAT should also be given a pat for setting up indoor stadia, swimming pools and other facilities in all the district headquarters".
Ms. Mujetha, married to Nizamudeen, also a former international athlete, favoured the adoption of ladder system, for achieving success at the international level. She is sad that the present day youngsters lack determination and will power. "The junior athletes want to achieve very fast. They like to emerge on top all of a sudden, win a medal or two, get jobs and vanish in the same speed".
She is sad that former sportspersons were not getting due recognition. They brought laurels to the country and the State with their hard work and they should be duly recognised.
Ms. Mujetha never feels that she has already retired. "I have the same enthusiasm which I possessed two decades ago and always want to be in the play field. I satisfy myself by imparting training to youngsters for a couple of hours in the evening," she signed off.
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