At 87, athlete Daisy Victor has 414 medals. Recently, she added a bronze, won at the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships for shot put and discus, to her collection
She has participated in 20 international meets, 36 national meets, 59 district meets in the veteran category, and so far has won 414 medals, of which 345 are gold. Meet 87-year-old Daisy Victor, who, recently, won a bronze at the 2018 World Masters Athletics Championships for shot put and discus. She was recently felicitated by Udhavi, a city-based NGO, along with SPARRC Institute to mark World Elders Day.
Born in Nazareth near Tirunelveli, Daisy grew up in Bellary as her father was a postmaster there. “My dad initiated me into sports. I started running when I was eight and till today, continue to run. Another driving force was my husband Victor Sundararajan,” says Daisy.
At school, she says she performed well in track and field events. Then, in 1951, she secured a job with Madras Telephones, where, as an athlete, she was given special permission to train for two hours every day. “I represented the organisation and won medals in every event I participated in. I got married in 1956, delivered six children over a span of ten years and even during that period, did not take a break. I used to run till the third trimester and got back to practice one month post delivery.”
“When Milkha Singh came to Chennai in 1980, he formed the Veteran Athlete Association. He motivated me to participate in world veteran athletic meets and in 1981, I went to New Zealand and secured the 7th rank. It was then that I started coaching under Victor Wilson. He coached me for international meets. But for my parents and my husband, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my passion,” she says.
Even today, Daisy continues to practice from 7.30 am to 9.30 am at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. She won bronze at the Masters Meet in Spain two weeks ago and three golds at the district level masters meet held on September 30. “Every morning, I pack breakfast and coffee in a flask and leave for practice. It is my routine to go to the bank or post office after practice, and return home by 11 am,” says Daisy. “Triple jump and long jump are my favourite events, but I stopped three years ago when my husband passed away as I was finding it hard to cope with his absence. Right now, I am concentrating on discus, shot put and running,” she adds.
Still going strong
In all these years, Daisy says she has not had even a headache. “I have not experienced any illnesses or aches, thanks to my genes. It’s only recently that I’m finding it a little difficult to climb down the stairs.”
While her family is supportive, she says not everyone reacts to her sporting spirit with the same enthusiasm. “People ask me: ‘Why do you want to run like this everyday? Do you want to fall down and trouble everyone? Can’t you just sit at home and relax with your great grand children?’ But I have the energy and I use my hard earned money to travel to sports meets.”
She adds, “So far, the Government has not honoured me nor provided financial aid. Fortunately, Dr Kannan Pugazhendi, has been providing me sports medicine treatment free of cost for the past 30 years.” She says her proudest moment was when she was felicitated by the late Indira Gandhi, along with Milka Singh in 1981.
Finally, Daisy signs off with determination, “I am leaving for Ludhiana now, where my eldest son lives. I intend to train there for triple jump and break my own record.”
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