Vijayakumari, overcoming struggles in confident fashion

Adversity offers the stiffest test of will and on Tuesday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, G K Vijayakumari showed she wasn’t short on that quality with a fine performance at the Junior Nationals.

The Karnataka athlete ran a race of power and poise to win the 400M gold for under-18 girls, leaving a fine imprint on the national stage. Her time of 56.75 seconds was better than that of the winner in the under-20 category, her performance delighting her coach Y S Lakshmeesha. “She ran a very good race, in fact, she surprised me with the way she ran. I thought she went out too quickly in the first 200 metres,” said the Sports Authority of India coach.

Hailing from a poor family in Goudenehalli in Mandya district, Vijayakumari talent came to the fore at the Adichunchunagiri Rural School. Lakshmisha was the one to notice the spark in her and she has been making steady progress at the SAI’s STC scheme.

A plus-two student of Sreegandha Kavalu Govt Junior College, Vijayakumari made a mark at the national level by winning the Youth Nationals at Guntur in May, beating Kerala’s Shaharbana Sidhique, the same girl who she humbled here on Thursday.

In between, the 17-year-old also had to undergo a bitter experience, when she, along with other Indian athletes, were prevented from competing in the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing due to the confusion over the age limit. On reaching New Delhi, she struggled to find hotel accommodation and also a return train ticket.

“It was a harrowing experience and a big blow to her,” said Lakshmeesha.

But with her latest success, Vijayakumari can look forward to better days, with her talent obvious to everyone at the track. “She is blessed with good speed but she is still raw and is learning,” said Lakshmeesha. “Her biggest asset though is the belief she has in her coach.”

Relay bungling

Meanwhile, a bungling by the team management led to Karnataka not entering a team for the boys’ under-20 4x100M relay. With two of the quartet leaving to compete in the Karnatak University meet in Dharwad, the coaches decided against fielding a team when the wiser option would have been to bring in the reserves and giving a chance to the athletes to compete at home.

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