Kerala man's journey from construction sites to gold medals in international masters athletics

After finishing college, Thankachan was unable to get a government job and had to take up construction work for livelihood.
Thankachan K with the national flag after winning the 5,000m race at an international masters athletics meet held in Ayodhya recently
Thankachan K with the national flag after winning the 5,000m race at an international masters athletics meet held in Ayodhya recently Photo | Express

ALAPPUZHA: Sixty-three-year-old Thankachan K is a construction worker, but his passion is long-distance running. Last Sunday, the Cherthala resident ran 63km to spread awareness on the need to engage in sports to avoid lifestyle diseases. Before that, he won gold medals in the 1,500m and 5,000m races at an international masters athletics meet held in Ayodhya from June 5 to 8.

He started competing in races while in school, Thankachan told TNIE.

“I was passionate about running and participated in many competitions during my school and college days. In the early eighties, as a Pre-Degree student of NSS College, Pallippuram, near Cherthala, I set a university record in the 5,000m. That record was broken only recently,” Thankachan said.

After finishing college, he was unable to get a government job and had to take up construction work for livelihood. But he kept participating in various competitions to keep his passion for running alive.

“After turning 50, I started competing in the masters category. And set records too. In the 2022 state masters meet held in Kozhikode, I set records in 1,500m and 10,000m,” Thankachan said.

He said coach James Thottan, a sub-inspector with the Alappuzha traffic police, inspired him to take to the masters’ circuit seriously.

“He suggested that I take part in as many competitions as possible. But the lack of sponsorship was a hindrance to attending many international events. I qualified for international masters’ meets in Singapore, China, Malaysia and Dubai in the past but couldn’t. Last month, Bond With Sports, a sports lovers collective in Cherthala, supported me in attending the international meet held in Ayodhya. More than 40 members in the group contributed towards the endeavour, and I managed to win gold medals,” Thankachan said.

The collective support him during the 63km run too. “I started running from St Michael’s College in Cherthala. Agriculture Minister P Prasad flagged off the run and it ended at the college after covering all major roads in Cherthala taluk.Next up is an international event at Nasik, in November. A few other national events are also scheduled in the coming months. However, a lack of funds is a hindrance in attending the meets,” he said.

He lives in Chozhakodathu with his son Amal Jude and daughter Anna Tennisia.

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