Stepping into her mom’s shoes

Unnathi Aiyappa, the 13-year-old daughter of former Indian heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa and quartermiler B.P. Aiyappa, won the Long-Jump Gold Medal in the U-14 category in the Junior National Championships held at Ranchi last week. Unnathi was a constant presence at the Kanteerava from a very young age, accompanying Pramila during contests and later on, as a trainee under her parents. She watched on television her mother winning the Asian Games bronze in the heptathlon at Guangzhou in 2010 but at five, was too young to understand its significance. Soon though, she too was winning medals on her own at the school level.

An eighth standard student of Baldwin Girls High School, Unnathi topped in the State Championships in Triathlon as well as Long-Jump this year but her big moment came at Ranchi. She struck gold with a 5.40-metre leap, improving her previous best of 5.31 metres, hardly bothered by a couple of fouls along the way.

An important step in Unnathi’s path had come earlier this year when she spent two months training under coach Nishad Kumar at the Sports Authority of India centre in Thiruvananthapuram.

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