Sports
Ilakkiya, daughter of a daily wage labourer, won not just one gold but two at 16th Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate Open International Championship 2019 at kata and kumite in under 14 category.

‘Thanga Mangai' Gomathi Marimuthu’s big win at the Women’s 800 m 2019 Asian Athletics Championships is still etched in the minds of people. Bringing home another golden laurel is 14-year-old Ilakkiya Muruganandham, daughter of a daily wage labourer, from Chennai.

Gomathi’s father Muruganantham may be a load-man at the Koyambedu vegetable market on a normal day but on Monday, when he went back to his village Pilimisai in Perambalur District of Tamil Nadu, he received a hero’s welcome. The reason? His daughter, of course!

Ilakkiya won not just one gold but two at 16th Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate Open International Championship 2019 at kata and kumite category in under 14 category. The International Championship that was held in Malaysia on 3, 4 and 5 May 2019 saw the participants from 9 different countries with close to 150 participants from India.

Having joined karate classes only three years ago, Ilakkiya tells us that the feat would not have been possible if not for her father, who made sure she participated in all competitions even if he had to borrow money and her coach Moo Srinivasan who gave her the right kind of training. "It would not have been possible without my coach. All the credit goes to him," she adds.

Ilakkiya with coach Moo Srinivasan

A student of the Fatima Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chennai’s Kodambakkam, Ilakkiya says the very first time she wanted to learn the martial art form was after watching Karate Kid film on TV. “I remember watching the film and being very inspired. Coincidentally, my master was distributing forms to all those who were interested to join his classes in my school. I took it up along with a few friends,” she says.

Ilakkiya was in class 5 when she joined Karate classes that were being held in her school. “I asked my father if I could, and he immediately agreed,” she adds.

Ilakkiya with father Muruganandham

But Muruganandham takes no credit in Ilakkiya’s win. “It was all her. I’ve always provided everything that my children have asked for, even if I had to face difficulties. She is my first born and after her I had two sons. When she wanted to learn Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music, I supported her. She learnt Bharatanatyam for a year and Carnatic music for 6 months. Her wish to learn Karate too was similar to me. It is her life and whatever she wants to be, she can be sure of my support,” tells us the proud father adding, "I treat both my sons and daughter the same. My oldest son is learning football and I’ve never told them a no.”

Having studied only upto standard 6, Muruganandham moved completely to Chennai in 2006, raising a family of three children along with his wife Geetha. Come what may, he is sure of supporting his daughter Ilakkiya in pursuing her dreams. “I dreamt that one day my daughter would make me proud by becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but today she has brought fame to me and my entire village. I had not even dreamed of this,” he adds.