A small conversation with 12-year-old Gopika of Ponniamman Girls Higher Secondary School, Kundrathur sprinter, who showed true grit in her debut year in track and field – winning two medals at the recently concluded state level Athletics meet in Nehru Park.

Gopika was born in Porur, Chennai, on October 31st, 2006. Innocent and full of heart, Gopika grasped every activity she played in. At the age of ten, she started tennis which she did for 3 years. She then went on do carom board at the zonal level. Three months ago, at the tender age of 12, she asked her dad “if she could run” and what happens next is that she wins two medals in a state level athletics meet organized by Real Sports Club and supported by Play Matches on November 29 at Nehru Park, Chennai.

Currently studying seventh grade at Ponniamman Girls Higher Secondary School, in Kundrathur, Chennai, Gopika excels in field of 200m and 600m. Though her athletics journey started only three months back, but her relentless effort of winning and running without fear has her aiming further in the sport, the motivation has come from his father, Bala Murugan, who was a hockey player in his hey-schooldays of 80s.

She credits her father, for financially supporting her early sports pursuits, “My father was the one who backed me up and motivated me to take up sports and also ensured that I excelled at the sport,” she said.

After failing to capture a medal at the zonal level, her father put her up in training exclusively under Goutham in Valasaravakkam, a suburb of the city of Chennai. Her coach Goutham has been instrumental in refining her skills. And in the later months, she recorded her best results, including a wind-aided second placed medal in both 200 meter and 600m event. Having made some decent run in such a short phase of time this year, the PT Usha-wanna be aims to go a step further in the upcoming events.

Excerpts

How did you become a sprinter (200m and 600m)?

I’ve been competitively playing sports since I was 6 years old. My father was a hockey player during his school days. He brought me to Athletics. It’s been fun from the start but I recently took the sport Athletics and have been coaching under Goutham sir for a past two months now.

Do you play other sports?

I’ve played Tennis, Carrom Board and also interested in dancing. ‘But now the focus is track and field”

What’s it like being a talented athlete in your school and how do you handle missing out on activities with friends because of your athletic schedule?

Some people will say that being an athlete is easy but in reality it’s not easy at all. I’m quite good at managing my time well as will juggle between studies, sports, dance practice and school homework.

How did you feel after winning two medals in 200m and 600m?

I am so happy for winning two medals, although I finished second in both events but I am working hard to give my best finish of first in the upcoming events.

Gopika receiving her second place medal and certificate at the Real Sports Club state level athletics meet.

How important is education?

Being a junior athlete education is the most important aspect. Schools in India really do look into your grades and that can make a big difference into what you eventually become in the future.

How do you chill and unwind?

Dance off to songs, singing and reading. Otherwise, I try to catch up with my friends, go out with them to malls or simply go shopping.

What’s your personal mantra?

You have to set goals and start working for them. Not everyone can do it. But, those who are work hard and are talented will make it.

Who is your sporting idol?

P.T. Usha is one of my biggest role models and her passion for athletics is an inspiration for me like others.

How was your experience so far as a track and field athlete?

Hmm, it was bit up and down at the start as I didn’t win any medal during zonal meet, but I worked hard and followed the good form up a couple of months later when I finished second in the state meet. So all in all, I certainly gained a lot of valuable experience in track and field something I’m really happy with today.

 

Tit-bits

Favorite Actor: Dhanush

Favorite Movie: Kutti

Favorite sports player: PT Usha

Who’s your model: PT Usha  and Abdul Kalam

One accomplishment you’re most proud of? Winning the two medals at the recently concluded State level Athletics meet in Nehru Park.

 


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