Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla

Blog by: Raj Kishan

Over 400 medals! 400! Arjuna Awardee and Padma Shri Award winner. Can somebody’s resume get any better! An inspiration for physically challenged sports person and women collectively, Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla we salute you!

When she was a helpless baby when polio ravaged her body. The raging fever left her paralyzed from the neck down. It took two years of electric shock treatment to help her regain upper body strength. Next 15 years she fought battles with multiple surgeries, treatments and what not! She has gone under over 32 surgeries till now. Her confidence in herself never wavered! “I don’t think I am a disabled person. Of course, I am disabled physically. But that is just one part of my body. My self-confidence is not paralyzed,” she once said in an interview.

“Sports was a therapy that allowed me to forget pain,” she says that during her 15 years of surgeries, treatments, studies and pain only sports was her medicine. Her father was always hell bent to make her self-reliant and confident. So, it is no surprise, made sure she got a sound education. During her education, she further learned and developed the parts of her body that were strong and got interested in wheelchair sport.

Malathi loves competition and thus loved the challenge of the competitive sport. She trained hard even without the most important equipment required for any disabled athlete- racing wheelchair, but she didn’t give up. An ecstatic Malathi learned that she would represent India in her first Paralympics games of 1988. She the fastest women on wheelchair in India.

The 1958 born, 59 year old, champion track and field athlete, Malathi, is known for 100m and 200m finishes, but she is also quite an expert at shot-put, javelin and discus throws. Apart from our hearts she has won 389 golds, 27 silvers and 5 bronzes at national and international events. Not enough yet? Wait! At the 1989 World Masters’ Games in Denmark, she won gold in 200m, shot put, discus, and javelin throw.She won the Arjuna award in 1996 and Padma Shri in 2001. Rajyothsava Award, Ekalavya Award, Dasara Award, Outstanding Disabled Sports Person in Public Sector Banks award, K. K. Birla Foundation Award, Pratibha Rathna was named Woman of the Year, 1999 by American Biographical Institute, USA. In the same year, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, UK, also named her International Woman of the Year. A very long list!

She has long served as manager at Syndicate Bank. She shelters children with various disabilities at Mathru Foundation — a charitable trust formed along with her friends. She focuses mainly on polio victims from rural areas, whose parents cannot afford to a good life for their children. Once an inspiration always an inspiration.

In 2009, her biography was launched, A Different Spirit, you can take all the motivation you need from the book and get up and fulfill your dream. Malathi says, “I took up sports and decided to do something different in life. Yes, we are different and so even our lives should be a shining example of that difference.” So people, it’s our time to shine!