Charming couple cynosure of all eyes at masters national athletic meet

Charming couple cynosure of all eyes at masters national athletic meet

Retired IPS Officer T O Jacob, aged 75 and his spouse Valsa Jacob, who is 67, have an illuminating affect with them which they easily pass on to others. An envied possession of sound health, bubbling energy and hilarity makes their all conversations end up in laughter thereby turning everyone’s attention towards them.

It is not the usual do-or-die spirit of an athlete that is in Valsa’s eyes, but that of the cute shyness of a sweet granny. “What is that big in our humble life that make reporters dwell into,” is the query her eyes ask. The couple is in the port city all the way from Thiruvananthapuram to take part in the four-day 34th Masters National Athletic Championship that kick started at Mangala stadium here on Thursday.

Valsa has been into athletics since the past 30 years and this is the 27th consecutive year she is being part of the Masters National Athletic championship. And what more, she has defended her first place in Javalin throw (women) in all these 27 championships.

Apart from Javalin, Long Jump, Discus throw and Shotput are her items. During the previous edition of the championship held in Thiruvananthapuram, she came first in Javalin, second in long jump and held third position in Disc throwing, all in the 60 plus category of women. In 2011, at the international meet of veteran athletics held in Pune, Valsa held her head high in the first position of the victory stand overcoming the stiff competition put forth by participants from 7 other countries. “Now I could jump up to 2.10 meters which was a better 3 meter a couple of years back when I set a state record in Kerala in veteran’s long jump,” she told Deccan Herald.

About 15 years ago, Valsa had the company of Jacob to take part in all veteran’s athletic meets. Jacob, who retired as the Thiruvananthapuram Superintendent of State Special Branch of Police in 1998, was a sprinter and was smitten by the 100 meter, 200 meter races. The couple had several wonderful times at the victory stands at Masters National Athletic championships, becoming the cynosure of all eyes. Three years back, Jacob was elected as the Chairman of India Masters Athletics, thus switching his role from an athlete to an organiser. In Mangalore also, Jacob is busy with chairman's responsibilities but manages to find enough time to support Valsa who is contesting in four events.

Though in their seventies and sixties, both have no significant health problems which they thankfully attribute to their active participation in athletics. “We did not bunk the daily evening exercises at Central stadium, Thiruvananthapuram, which has been a regular practice since many years,” quips Valsa. The couple has three children who are well-settled.

Masters meet begins

Earlier in the day, the India Masters Athletics 34th Masters National Athletic Championship being organised by Dakshina Kannada Masters Athletics in association with Karnataka Masters Athletic Association kick started here at Mangala stadium on Thursday. More than 1,500 participants from 16 states are participating in the 4-day event. A 10-member contingent from Sri Lanka is the attraction this time. There are five categories from the age group of 30 to above 85 in men and women’s section.

Before hoisting the flag, a splendid march past reached Mangala stadium with contestants from each state rallying behind the placard of their respective state, wearing colourful dresses.

District-in-Charge Minister B Ramanath Rai inaugurated the event. Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim, India Masters Athletics (IMA) Chairman                   T O Jacob, Moksha Yug Access India Managing Director                  Harsha Moily, K Thejomaya, IMA Secretary General                          Gerald D'Souza among others spoke.

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