Meet the little skating wonder from Kerala who went viral on internet

Five-year-old Thrissur native Janaki Anand, in all likelihood, is one of India’s youngest skateboarder. She is currently touring South India to bring more attention to the sport
Janaki Anand with her family
Janaki Anand with her family

KOCHI: In March 11, Instagram account @skatekochi posted a reel of a little girl stair shredding on the premises of the JLN Stadium in Kaloor, Kochi, a haven for skateboarders. The short went viral in less than 24 hours. Dressed in a frock, armed with a helmet and safety gear, she is seen falling and failing ruthlessly in her attempts. With enviable steadfastness, she aces the move in her fourth attempt and ends up being embraced by the members of Fly Squad, one of Kochi’s first skateboarding communities, as she cries in joy. Five-year-old Thrissur native Janaki Anand, in all likelihood, could be one of India’s youngest skateboarder.

“Her father, Anand Thampi, was the first in the family to be lured by skating. He got a board right away, which intrigued Janaki’s brother, Rehan. Their enthusiasm for the sport entranced the then two-year-old Janu (Janaki) immediately. She was enchanted by the movement of the skateboard and the fact that she could reach places by solely sitting or wading on it.

Janu would try balancing on the skateboard, while supporting herself on the sides of the sofa. On January 29, 2020, a month after she turned four, we took her to the skate park in Dubai, where we were based.

That very day, I created an Instagram account for her,” says Jincy Anand, Janaki’s mother,who diligently recorded her four-year-old’s rendezvous with the skateboard under @skate_janzz, in an attempt to archive her daughter’s progress with the board.

True grit
In two months, the pandemic took over and everyone had to take shelter within four walls. “Nothing deterred her. She practised indoors. A year down, her progression is tremendous and awe-inspiring. She learnt to be patient as it takes several, frustrated tries to master a trick. Upon witnessing the miracles of skateboarding on my daughter, I have taken up the sport too. Though I merely cruise; I’m not as courageous as Janu to attempt tricks,” Jincy laughs. 

On further research, the parents realised that Kerala was yet to catch up with skateboarding, save for a few communities like Fly Board. “Primarily, awareness barely exists. Secondly, we lack the appropriate spaces and facilities. While a city like Kochi is slightly more equipped, the other districts have little to none.

My husband and I were keen to introduce this sport, especially to little girls, as a way of empowering them. Simultaneously, we wanted to ensure the right resources for the sport by bringing it to the notice of the authorities. It would also ensure a wider platform for Janaki in her own country. These are the reasons behind our plans to return. In fact, skateboarding will be at the Olympic Games for the first time in its history in Tokyo this year. There couldn’t be a better time to nurture our children,” she explains.

On right path
Currently, Janaki is on a South India tour – covering all five states – over 20 days, to bring more attention to the sport by meeting skating communities such as Kovalam Skate Club and Cosmic Skaters. The viral video was shot by Akhil Tom when she was touring Kochi for two days.

“Sreekumar Santosh, Efraim Anthony and Arun Kumar with Fly Squad must be credited for the techniques Janaki is currently mastering. A lot of people here questioned the innumerable scars and bumps on her limbs. Janu is not a quitter, regardless of the pain. Her persistence to learn also prompted us to return and spread the word in Kerala. We’re hoping other kids learn and follow Janu’s zeal, thereby empowering themselves,” Jincy adds.

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The New Indian Express