TIRUPUR: DHARUN Ayyasamy doesn’t even remember the last time he was home. “I think it’s been a year now,” he says. Before correcting himself. “Actually, 11 months ago.”
It’s been one international event after another for Dharun, a member of the Indian men’s 4X400m team, over the last year. If there were no events, they went on exposure trips hoping to crack the qualifying code to get into the Olympics. And his lost hours of sleep and endless training sessions finally came to fruition when the team qualified for Rio.
His immediate reaction after crossing the Sree Kanteerava chalk on Sunday evening was also keeping in view of what he put himself through over the last year. “Happy and relieved.” Nirvana.
That’s a popular sentiment in Dharun’s house in Tirupur. His mother, Poongodi, has not allowed the phone to sit idle. She has been calling all her relatives, close and extended, to inform them of Dharun’s feat. “She was really happy when I told her what I did, about what we did as a team. She told me today that she has called everyone worth calling.”
The 19-year-old, who switched from kho-kho to track when he was in class X, will finally feel vindicated but there is a reason behind Poongodi’s elation as well. She lost her husband to tuberculosis when Dharun was in class IV and it’s been tough sailing since. “My mother did struggle for some time but we received financial support from my chitti, Mohana, and chitappa, Sivakumar. (his mother’s sister and her husband).”
You could make a case for saying sports runs in the family. His sister Sathya plays volleyball for Tamil Nadu. “She has played in the nationals,” he confirms. He swats away any suggestions of the same, maintaining that he is just a normal guy who is a step closer to realising his dream of running for India at the Olympics.
The relay team also comprising Arokia Rajiv, Kunhu Muhammed and Muhammed Anas will soon depart for Uruguay for one last dress rehearsal before the main thing but Dharun, who is studying at Alva’s College in Mangaluru, is not cowed. Not when a list of his achievements could run to half a page.
The men’s team, who possess the second leading time of the year, aren’t medal favourites but if they continue their upward trend, Dharun and the other three could finally see pictures of themselves next to their bios on the IAAF page.