Orchatteri Puthiyaveetil Jaisha, commonly known as O.P. Jaisha, born in 23rd May, 1983 in Kerela, India. She is an Indian track and field athlete. She is the current national record holder in the Marathon and also a former National record holder in the 3000 metres steeplechase. She specialises in events like Middle Distance, 5000 metres and Marathon. She is currently being supported by JSW Sport under the Sport Excellence Programme.
O.P.Jaisha belongs to the tribal region in North Kerela’s Wayanad district where extra- curricular activities were adventures that she could not afford. Her mother battling depression, a bed-ridden father and three older sisters, shed tears of joy when she broke the National Marathon Record and her athletic career helped her family escape the acute poverty. When she was five years of age, her father met a bus accident that injured his spine and made him bed-ridden. Her mother slowly slipped into depression after her husband’s accident. The only source of income for the family was three cows they owned, but the cattle also died one day mysteriously. O.P.Jaisha used to eat mud to prevent herself from starving.
In 2005, O.P.Jaisha won gold medal over 1500 metres and 3000 metres at the 1st Asian Indoor Games held at Bangkok. In 2006, she representated India at Common Wealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. She is also a bronze medallist in 5000 metres at the Doha Asiad. In 2008, she was given the National Title at Madurai Inter-State Championships and in 2010, she broke the Indian National record in 3000 metres steeplechase set by Sudha Singh in Kochi. In 2015, she made her Marathon debut at the Mumbai Marathon and finished 18th in the Marathon at the World Championships in Beijing, qualifying for 2016 Rio Olympics.
Her constant efforts to survive the poverty of the family bought results for her good. She being the youngest sibling of the family, was given the responsibility of not making the family sleep empty stomach. She used to walk miles to sell milk and earn some cash at the end of the day. Her dedication towards her career bought 7.5 Lakh cash award in 2014 to her, announced by Kerela Chief Minister Oomen Chandy as in 2014 Asian Games, she performed and won Bronze medal and achieved a personal best record. She has taken many medals in her custody.
Lesson from her life
She used her prize money of 7.5 Lakh to pay for the wedding of her sisters and also paid all the medical bills of the family. Despite getting excluded from the National Competition at 30 and was considered too old as an athlete with ‘Bright Future’, O.P. Jaisha broke the 19 year old women’s Marathon National Record at the Mumbai Marathon and by finishing 18th at the world championships in Beijing this year, she qualified for Rio Olympic Games. Her struggle teaches us to not to give up and just believe in yourself.
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