Indian long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan, who failed to meet the country’s medal hopes in the Incheon Asian Games in 10000m and 5000m, said she was retiring from international athletics.
Sreedharan told the media on Sunday that she would bid adieu to the track after the next edition of the national games, slated for earlier next year in her home state Kerala.
Sreedharan, 31, said the decision to retreat from international athletic events after the Asian Games of 2014 was taken much before. In the Asian Games of 2010, she had won gold in 10,000m and silver 5,000m.
“I would not participate in any more international events. With the next national games, I would leave the track for ever. The decision was taken to focus on family life, I would continue to strive for promoting athletics,’’ said Sreedharan, winner of Arjuna award in 2011.
An employee with Southern Railways, Sreedharan has lived a life riddled with hurdles. Up against the odds since losing her father at an early age, life has thrown various obstacles at the athlete from Kerala.
Right from walking 10 kilometres to school in the high ranges of Idukki district to not having enough money to fund her passion, Sreedharan’s family had seen her suffer through it all.
Right from her school days, Sreedharan had been a long distance runner. The daily trekking to the government high school at Rajakkad turned out to be her first training for the big league. Due to the transfer of her sports teacher Ranedran to another institution in Thodupuzha, Sreedharan too followed suit, moving out during her high school days.
While Sreedharan went on to participate in several state, national and international events, Pradeep dropped out of school to become a carpenter to meet her monetary demands. The Delhi Commonwealth Games shattered her confidence, as she managed to finish just above the last spot in the finals, but the Asian Games of 2010 show her stellar performance with gold.
When she ran for the country in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the athlete lived in asmall, electricity-less mud-house with her brother and mother, with nothing more than an asbestos sheet for a roof. Later, the state government financed her to construct a new house.