Mana Anandavel: Queen of the tracks


How Mana Anandavel began her sporting career after she hit 45, and continues to win medals till date

Cheerful voice, infectious enthusiasm, and unrelenting energy define 71-year-old Mana Anandavel. She made an entry into sports at the age of 45, accidentally. “My cousin was conducting a sports meet for senior citizens in the year 1991. I went there as a spectator along with my daughter-in-law. I was thrilled when I saw track and field events taking place, and asked the organisers if I could participate in shot put and discus. I went home with two gold medals that day,” recalls Mana.

“But I had undergone a major surgery just recently, so my husband stopped me from going overboard with physical activity. For the next 10 to 15 years, I did not actively participate in sports, right until the age of 60,” says Mana. But being a fitness freak, she refused to give up on it entirely, and instead began attending aerobic classes conducted by Stina Vasu. The idea was to keep focussing on her fitness and to stay prepared for the right opportunity to get back to the field.

Mana Anandavel: Queen of the tracks

“My younger son knew my aspirations. He used to encourage me and sent me track pants and T-shirts, shoes and vitamin tablets from Australia. But he passed away at the age of 32 in 2008. His desire was to make me participate in world masters meet,” she says. Unable to cope with the loss, Mana took refuge in sports. “In a way, I was fulfilling my late son’s dream,” she explains.

Hammer throw, discus, shot put and hurdles are her areas of interest. But few years ago, she had to stop participating in hurdles due to a leg injury. “Back in my school days in Madurai, I did not fare well in academics but used to win all the sporting events in school. I have always had plenty of physical energy and an abundance of stamina.” It was something that ran in her family, she explains, “My maternal grandfather was the inspiration for my father to get fit and take up sports for fitness. But after I got married at the age of 17, I had to leave behind sports,” she says.

Mana Anandavel: Queen of the tracks

“I have won medals in all the events that I have participated in since 2008,” she declares, “Thanks to the support and encouragement that I get from my coach, CK Stalin and sports medicine consultant, Dr Kannan Pugazhendi. When I am on the track, their faces are what come to my mind, and make me all the more determined,” says Mana.

Needles to say, her routine isn’t an easy one. “I undergo strength training for my arms ahead of any masters sports meet. But other than that, I go for daily workouts for two hours to keep myself fit. It is only closer to the date of the event that I begin prepping for sport-specific training, which in my case is both shotput and hammer throw,” she adds.

Mana does not miss even a day of cardio, weight training and any of her sport-specific workout sessions. At the district master athlete meet held on September 30 this year, she won three medals. “My goal is to win gold in a world masters meet,” she says.

Mana Anandavel: Queen of the tracks

Mana wants to take it easy the next year, though. Currently, she is planning a month-long cruise with her husband. An avid shopper and ardent traveller, she is also enthusiastic about cooking and has built a reputation for her skills in the cuisine of Madurai, her hometown.

But her talent on the field remains her biggest claim to fame: earlier this month, Mana was felicitated by a city-based NGO, UDHAVI, which works for the welfare of senior citizens, along with SPARRC Institute.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:01:35 AM |

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