How Neole turned barbs into bouquets

How Neole turned barbs into bouquets

focus on sports talent

Neole Anna Cornelio

The faster, the better. This is Neole Anna Cornelio’s motto every time she steps on to the track. These are words from a confident athlete. Neole owes the immense self belief to her past. As a child starting out, six years ago, Neole was subjected to body shaming.   

Due to barbs from her competitors, the stout eight-year-old often felt dejected. “I would get bullied by senior runners and end up crying,” Neole tells DH. Before her detractors could crush her completely, Neole decided to let her results do the talking. And the first step towards it was to get fitter.

“I was a foodie. I cut down on junk foods. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. But I am glad I was able to focus on being a good sprinter,” she says. The role of her coach Mallesh S Dhanawade turned out to be crucial in this phase. 

“Agreed that she wasn’t the fittest among the runners in her school but she was a fast learner. She would respond to my instructions like none other,” explains Mallesh. 

It required hard work from the coach-athlete duo. But the results so far should give the duo enough motivation to aim bigger. Today, the 14-year-old, is one of the promising sprinters in Karnataka. Last year turned out to be a breakthrough one for Neole. In the South Zone Championship in Udupi, she clinched silver in 12.60 seconds in girls’ U-16 100 metres. 

She dazzled in the Reliance Foundations National meet in Mumbai, coming second in the girls’ U-16 100M (12.48) and winning the 200M (25.05).

Mallesh, a middle-distance national medallist, was impressed with how Neole regrouped following a thigh injury. 

“She suffered a muscle tear on her thigh in the 2018-19 season. Understandably, she was a bit low during the period but she never lost hope,” he says. Once back in action, Neole clocked 12.52 in the girls’ U-16 100 metres at the All India Junior Nationals in Thirupathi.  

Neole, currently studying in ninth standard at the St Francis Xavier Girls’ High School, thanks her father Vijaya Nelson Cornelio, a cargo supervisor in dnata and mother Flora Flavia Cornelio, a homemaker, for their support during her difficult phase. The multiple State champion now looks to better her record at the national tournaments, starting September.

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