Tokyo Games: Geetha recalls the Athens 2004 moment

S. Geetha, daughter of a cycle spares shop owner in the obscure town of Marteru of West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, had a fabulous journey in the world of athletics

Double Olympian S. Geetha receiving the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award from the then President of India Pranab Mukherjee.   -  Special Arrangement

For S. Geetha, daughter of a cycle spares shop owner in the obscure town of Marteru of West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, it has been a fabulous journey in the world of athletics – with the distinction of representing India in the 2004 Athens and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“When I look back now, it all looks like a dream. Representing my country in Olympics was something, which I never ever thought when I started off athletics in the then AP Sports School (Hakimpet, near Hyderabad) in 1994,” recalls the 38-year-old Geetha, now settled in Guntur as OSD in South Central Railway.

“I got the support at the right time from so many officials in the APSS. Be it the PET Pradeep sir, SAI athletics coaches M. Ranga Rao and N. Ramesh sirs,” she says.

READ| Tokyo Olympics still weigh limits on fans, if any fans at all

Significantly, the then APSS Director Dr. N. Parameswara Ram was quick to spot the spark and went all out to encourage her. “Once I won my first international medal (4 x400 m relay bronze) in the Junior Asian championship in late ‘90s, I got the feel and confidence I can make it big in athletics,” Geetha says.

“Fortunately, I have been really consistent even while graduating from the juniors to seniors. This helped me get selected for Athens Olympics,” she adds.

READ| Mary Kom, Manpreet, Bajrang to be India's flagbearers at Tokyo Olympics

“Making debut in Olympics in the birthplace of the Games itself was a huge honour for me. Those moments are etched in my memory,” Geetha says.

“Honestly, I was informed just after the warm-up that I would be competing in the 4 x400 m relay in Athens and we finished eighth in the finals,” says Geetha, who is married to former hockey player and Secretary of Andhra Hockey Association G. Harshavardhan.

“I was definitely nervous, felt the pressure and unprepared for the biggest experience of my career. But, somehow I could focus, tried to give my best when I ran the first lap,” says the 2006 Asian Games gold medallist in 4 x 400 m relay.

“I learnt a lot from my first Olympics watching some of the big names of sports during their training sessions and competitions also. There was a world of difference between us and them,” she says.

“We lacked the kind of high intensity preparations and high level exposure they have before the Olympics. Then, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics I was relatively relaxed and disappointed too for finishing fourth in the semis (4x400 m).
Honestly, I never thought we had a medal chance then,” she says.

Geetha feels the current Indian athletes have very bright chance of winning medals. “Thanks to the exposure and the wonderful support from the Federation, Government, SAI, they have been doing really well and I am sure they are going to win some unexpected medals in athletics,” she says.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :