When she landed in Kochi a couple of days ago, L. Suriya was not even sure whether she would be able to run the Cochin International Half Marathon.
“I had picked up a small injury near my heel three days ago, while jogging after training, and my calf muscles were tight,” said the 23-year-old. In fact, she came in as a late entry.
And the field was studded with stars, including Preeja Sreedharan who won the Delhi International Half Marathon’s Indian elite class a few days ago, Kavita Raut, Sudha Singh and Monika.
“Since they were all there, I thought I’d be somewhere in the top five or six, I didn’t expect to win at all,” said Suriya, who hails from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu.
But win she did, surprising the seasoned stars and herself and took home a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh. It was her maiden international half marathon and apart from her victory in the Elite Indian women’s section, Suriya was also sixth in the overall Elite list which included international runners from Kenya, Ethiopia and Estonia.
Her victory was doubly sweet for Army’s G. Lakshmanan from Tamil Nadu, who has been training with her from a very young age, won the Elite Indian men’s title.
“I’m happy that my brother won the men’s title,” Suriya said, confusing many. But she later clarified saying, “he is not my blood brother or even a cousin but we have been training together for years at a ground near our home at Pudukottai. But he is like a brother to me.”
The two won the 5000m at the National Open in Ranchi a few months ago.
Suriya’s dad, S. Loganathan who is with the Income Tax, was Lakshmanan’s coach too for years.
“My dad, a middle-distance runner who went up to the national level, coaches many youngsters back home. And our club (Kavinadu Youth Sports Club) president P.V.R. Sekharan is very supportive,” said Suriya, a ticket examiner with the Southern Railway in Tiruchi.
Overtaking her sisters
She took to athletics when in the sixth standard, following her two elder sisters who were also decent middle distance runners.
“My father used to accompany them for competitions and, since I could not stay away from my dad, I used to go too. And I became interested.”
Now, she is the champion sister.