Throughout history, the southern state of Kerala is known to produce outstanding women athletes who went on to represent the nation on the international level. The state has produced a good bunch of fine athletes who not only won major international events but also went on to become the first women to secure medals at a host of championships. Furthermore, a couple of women from Kerala even managed to hold the national records for a quite a long time, showcasing their ability to challenge the very best of the world.
With such exceptional records, these icons have inspired a whole new generation of athletes in the country to take up athletics as a sport, and in this article, let us look closer at the five women athletes from Kerala who took the country to a whole new level and serve as a motivation to many.
#1 P.T. Usha
Any list featuring the very best of Indian athletics would be incomplete without the mention of P.T. Usha. The Queen of Indian Track and Field rose to fame during the 1982 Asian Games that were held in New Delhi, India, bagging two silver medals in the 100m and the 200m events.
She won 5 Gold and 1 Bronze medals at the Asian Championships held at Jakarta, Indonesia in 1985. Since then, Usha managed to secure at least one medal in every successive Asian Games and Asian Championships that she has represented India until the 1998 Asian Championships. The 1989 Asian Championships held in India was another highlight of her career for she managed to secure four Gold and two Silver medals.
P.T. Usha has over 100 medals to her name and is one of the most successful athletes of the country. She is also the first Indian woman who reached the Olympics. However, an Olympic medal always eluded the premier athlete.
P.T. Usha received the Arjuna award and Padma Shri in 1985 for her immense contributions to the sport in India.
#2 K.M. Beenamol
K.M. Beenamol is an international athlete from the Idukki district of Kerala. She is known for her performances in 400 m and 800 m events.
Excellent performances at the Asian Junior Athletic Championships in 1992 and 1994 allowed her to secure six medals.
Like P.T. Usha, Beenamol built a name for herself with quite a few extraordinary performances during the Asian Games and the Asian Athletic Championships. Beenamol secured one Gold and one Silver medal during the 2000 Asian Championships held at Jakarta, Indonesia. She received the Gold for the 4 X 400 m relay. K.M. Beenamol bettered her record at the 2002 Asian Games, winning two Gold and one Silver medals. Also, she is the third Indian women to enter an Olympic semi-final event.
For her contributions to the sport, she was presented with the Arjuna award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratha award. Additionally, she was conferred the Padma Shri in 2004.
#3 Shiny Abraham
Shiny Abraham Wilson too is from the Idukki district of Kerala. Her athletic career ran in parallel with P.T. Usha; in fact, she and Usha studied at the same sports division.
Shiny Abraham has a unique recording of being the National Championship for the 800 m event for 14 years. With such an impressive record, she went on to represent India in over 75 events.
Abraham Wilson's most memorable moments must have come during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1985 Asian Games at Jakarta, Indonesia. At that event, she and P.T. Usha managed to propel India to the finals of the women's 4 X 400 m relay event. Also, she became the first Indian woman to secure a place in an Olympic semi-final event. Her time in Jakarta allowed her to secure two medals, Gold in the 800 m event and Silver in the 400 m event.
#4 M.D. Valsamma
M.D. Valsamma hails from Ottathai, Kannur, Kerala and is the first Indian woman to secure a medal at an international event on Indian soil.
Her gold medal at the 400 m Hurdles event during the 1982 Asian Games made her the second Indian woman to secure a medal at the prestigious Asian Games. Additionally, she secured a couple of medals at the 1981 and the 1985 Asian Athletic Championships. Her individual medals came during the 400 m Hurdles while other medals came at the 4 X 400 m relay event. Also, Valsamma secured three medals at the 1989 South Asian Games, held at Islamabad.
Moreover, she was part of the team along with Shiny Abraham and P.T. Usha who managed to take the Indian contingent to the finals of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics relay event.
For her immense contribution, the Government of India presented her the Arjuna award in 1982 and the Padma Shri in 1983.
#5 Tintu Lukka
Tintu Lukka is born in Valathode, Kerala and has represented India at the Olympic Games, Asian Games and the Asian Championships.
One the national stage, she won Gold in the 800 m event at the 2015 National Games and also holds the national record for that event. Also, she secured a Gold medal in the 4 X 400 m event.
Her mesmerising performance at the 2008 Asian Junior Athletic Championships in Jakarta showcased glimpses of her potential at the international stage. Her first major medal came at the 2010 Asian Games; she took the Bronze in the 800 m event. Four years later, she bettered her record at the Asian Games in 2014, securing one Gold and one Silver.
Her performances at the Asian Championships were not short of spectacular for she secured two Gold, two Silver and two Bronze medals between 2011 to 2015. She received all these medals for her performances in the 800 m and the 4 X 400 m events.
Tintu Lukka received the Arjuna award from the Government of India in 2014.