In 2016, she won two gold medals and one silver medal at the state level.

13-year-old TN swimming champions dreams may soon be cut short for want of fundsScreengrab/ Puthiya Thalamurai
news Friday, August 19, 2016 - 19:25

Thirteen-year-old Pavithra, a swimming champion from Tirunelveli, has won two gold medals in back stroke and a silver in butterfly at state level competitions in 2016 alone. However, this budding swimmer’s potential career might be at an end even before it begins, as her family is finding it difficult to afford the fees for her training at the Anna Stadium Swimming Academy.

About two-and-a-half-years ago, Pavithra began swimming as part of her treatment for wheezing. “She was having wheezing problem. A Siddha doctor told us to make her swim regularly. So I made her join a swimming academy,” says Rebekkah, Pavithra’s mother.

In the beginning, Pavithra was scared and would cry and beg to be taken out of the water. After a month, however, her interest in swimming kicked in. And just three months later she not only participated in a district-level competition but also won a silver medal.

From that point, there was no looking back for Pavithra. “My daughter was very happy, she was appreciated in her school, and I decided that I would support her and take her for all the competitions,” says Rebekkah.

Pavithra has secured 54 certificates in the last two-and-a-half-years, says Rebekkah proudly. “In 2016, she won two gold medals and one silver medal at the state level,” said Rebekkah.

But now, the family is facing severe financial difficulties in supporting Pavithra’s continued training. Pavithra’s father works in a welding company and earns Rs 10,000 per month. “Taking Pavithra to a competition itself costs about Rs 5,000, and now we aren’t able to pay the monthly fees of Rs 1200 for training at the Anna Stadium Swimming Academy,” explains Rebekkah.

The academy has stopped Pavithra’s training because of this. “Now, my daughter trains on her own. But, she requires a good coach for her to participate in the Olympics one day,” says Rebekkah.

At the state-level competitions Pavithra goes to, says Rebekkah, the facilities provided are also sub-standard. “Last year, we went for a state level competition at Rajkot and the rooms were so bad, and there was no electricity and water inside the rooms. We were even asked to pay Rs 3000 for one day’s accomodation,” she says.

Despite the family’s financial problems, Pavithra’s parents are determined to support their daughter’s talent. “All our relatives keep telling us that this is a game for rich people. But my daughter wants to win a gold medal someday at the Asian Games and after that at the Olympics,” says Rebekkah.

Rebekkah says that what her daughter needs most from the government is help in getting a good coach.

To help Pavithra pursue her dreams of a career in swimming, you can contact her family on 7092965482


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