The Olympians of Kerala - the Sports, Games and Athletics Luinaries

Kerala Olympians - Kerala state is in the forefront in the sports and games in India with a good contribution in the National, Asian, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. The state has produced some outstanding sports and games personalities especially in Athletics, Foot Ball and Cricket, Badminton etc. In all the important towns and cities the state has provided facilities for indoor and outdoor sports activities and training facilities. Brief details of each of the Kerala Olympians are given below.

Brief details about the participants in the various Olympic Games in the Indian teams from Kerala State are given below. This article is mainly to familiarize the names and some of the important events of the personalities. Many more details of the persons may be available, but the purpose of this article is only to introduce the sports luminaries of Kerala State.

Major-General C. K. Lakshmanan

Birth & Place Lakshmanan was born in 1898 in Payyambalam near Kannur City in Kannur District.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance1924 – Paris -He was the first person from Kerala to represent India at in Olympics in an eight-member Indian squad. He contested in 120 yard hurdle. No medal.
Other Events attended120-yard hurdles in first National Athletic meet in New Delhi, 1924 won a gold medal.
Services worked as Major – General in the Army. Lakshmanan has also worked as Director General of Health during the British rule.
Recognitions The Football Friends Free Coaching Center (FFFCC) of Kannur has erected a statue of C K Lakshmanan in front of the Jawahar Municipal Stadium, Kannur.
Other Activities He was also well-known in cricketer field.
Death: Lakshmanan died in 1972.

Thomas Varghese alias Thiruvalla Pappan

(Thomas Mathai Varghese) (Football).
Birth & Place No birth details. Born in Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta District.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance 1948 – London. Varghese was stopper back of Indian Foot Ball team. This was first Olympic Game that took place after the Indian independence. No Medal.
Other Events attended First Asiad meet in New Delhi in 1951, with the team winning gold medal.
Played as Indian team member, against many foreign foot ball teams. Has captained the Tata Foot Ball team, and later the Indian Foot Ball Team. For some time he has played as member of the Maharashtra state and in the National team. He has played for Santhosh Trophy. He was in service Services: He has worked in the Kerala Police Department. Later he got a job in TATAs Bombay.
Recognitions: Thomas Varghese was known as the First Malayalee Olympian in Foot Ball.

P.B. Mohammed Sali alias Kottayam Sali

Year & Place of Olympic Attendance 1952 – Helsinki. He was left winger in Indian Foot ball team.
Other Events attended Won gold medal in the first ASAID, 1951 at New Delhi along with the team members. For the East Bengal team Salli was captain.
Recognitions: Collected trophies like Durand Cup, IFA Shield, and Calcutta League Championship etc. for the team.

Ivan Jacob

Year & Place of Olympic Attendance 1952 – Helsinki. Participated in 400 meter race as Indian athlete.
Other Events attended He was in the field of athletic In India before the entry of Milkha Singh.
He had an unbroken record as Natinal Champion in the 400 meter race with a timing of 48.2 second for 4 successive years.
ServicesHe had served in Madras city police.
He is now settled in Australia and is the Indian representative in Olympian's Club of Australia.

S. S. Narayanan-Double Olympian

(Shankar Subramaniam Narayan)
Birth & Place: He was born in 1934 in Ottapalam, Palakkad District of Kerala. His parents moved to Matunga in Bombay when Narayanan was only one and half years of age. He studied in the South Indian Education Society School and the house was opposite to the Indian Gymkhana.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance1st time in1956 - Melbourne, Australia. Narayanan was goal keeper of Indian Foot Ball team with a brilliant performance to his credit. Team came as 4th.
2nd time in 1960 - Rome Olympics also as goal keeper. There was another Malayalee foot ball player - T. Abdul Rehman in the team.
Other Events attended In 1952 when he was only 17 he played at the cooperage in Indian Gymkhana, Mumbai.
During schooldays he was playing Foot Ball and Basket Ball. He also used to play Tennis and Cricket games.
He is now 76 years and adjudicates the Man of the Match at Indian League games.

T. Abdul Rahman

Birth & Place: Thazhatheri Abdul Rahaman was born on 20th January, 1934 in Kozhikode, Kerala.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance In1956 - Melbourne, Australia. He was a defender in the Indian foot ball team.
Other Events attended He started his foot ball career in the local club at Calicut in 1950. Played for the Rajasthan Club and Mohan Bagan Club of Kolkotta etc. later he became the captain of the Calcutta team.
Recognitions He was popularly known as the Olympian Rahman. The foot ball game lovers of Kozhikode started an institution by the name “Olympian Rehman Memorial Academy of Foot ball."This academy was started in 2005 for the promotion of talents among the youngsters.
Death: Rahman died on the 15-12- 2002 at his native place when he was 68.

Chandrasekharan (Foot Ball):
Year & Place of Olympic Attendancein 1960 - Rome Olympics. He was a member in the Indian foot ball team.
Other Events attended He was a member of Indian team as defender in the Asian Games at Jakarta in 1962. The Indian team won the gold medal.
Recognitions The 1960 Olympians of India were honoured recently by the present and past Ministers of sport Mr Ajay Makhan and M S Gill. The Olympians were honoured with a shawl and cheque for Rs 1, 50, 000/- each. From Kerala the team included S S Narayanan, M Devadas and O Chandrasekharan who were among those honoured

M. Devadas

(Foot Ball)
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games he was in the Indian foot ball team with another two members from Kerala – S S Narayanan and O Chandrasekharan.

Suresh Babu

(High Jump)
Birth & Place born on 10th February, 1953 in Kollam in Kerala. He graduated in science.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance in the 1972 Munich Olympics contested in high jump.
Other Events attended an outstanding athlete in his school and college days. First entry at National was in 1969 at Jalander. He was a national title holder in long, triple and high jumps. He won bronze medal in the Asian games 1974 at Tehran & and won the gold medal in 78 at Bangkok. He was National champion for triple jump in 1974, 1976 and 1978 games. In 1974, 1975 and 1978 he was the champion in decathlon (consisting of ten track & field events).
Service: He had served as Special Officer for Sports and Games, on the Kerala State Electricity Board, Sports Officer with Kerala Sports Council and as a member of the Technical Committee of the All India Electricity Sports Control Board. At Bangalore he had worked as a coach of the Sports Authority of India (Southern Center) and later as the State Supervisor of Sports Authority of India of Kerala and Lakshadweep.
RecognitionHe was given ‘Arjuna Award' in 1978-79.
Death On 19 February 2011During the National Games at Ranchi.

Manuel Frederiks

Year & Place of Olympic AttendanceIn the 1972 Munch Olympics he participated as the goalkeeper in the Indian hockey team.
Recognition In this game India got only a bronze medal.

T C Yohannan

(Athletic event)
Birth & Place: born 19th May 1947 in Kundra in Kollam District of Kerala. He has a diploma in Mechanical Engineer. His father was Tinu Yohannan a former cricketer. Thadathuvila Chandapillai Yohannan (full name)
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Canada in Long Jump.
Other Events attended He was the National champion in Long Jump for about 30 years. In the Asian Games of 1974 at Tehran he made an Asian Record which was parallel to that of Milkha Singh's in Rome Olympics. He represented the Singapore International and won gold medals in Long Jump and triple jump. He also won the gold medals in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Kobe in Japan and won gold medals also from Sibu City of Philippines during 1974. He stopped participating in games from 1974.
Service He joined the services of the Bhilai Steel Plant and later joined the TELCO, Automobile Company Assistant Public Relations Officer.
Recognition: He has received the ‘Arjuna' award from the Government of India. He received merit award from Kerala Government and Telco Veer award from TELCO. He was also honoured by the Bombay and Chennai Sports Journalists Association, Lions club, Sports week and TATA Sports Club, Mumbai.

P T Usha

Birth & Place born on 27-6-1964 In Payyoli Village, Kozhikode District of Kerala, India. Full name is Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha (full name)
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance: In 1980 Moscow Olympics at the age of 16, the youngest girl in sprint event. She attended in 1984 Los Angles, 1988 Seoul and in 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Other Events attended P T Usha won about 101 International Medals for various athletic events connected with sprint events in various events, some of the very prestigious. She has also several National events to her credit. If all the events are to be narrated that itself will be like a separate article. Notable events are the 13 gold medals from Asian Track and Field Championships from 1983 to 89. She was the first among Indian woman and 5th Indian athlete to reach the final stage of Olympic event and won the semi – final. She won 4 gold and 1 silver medals in the 10th Asian Games at Seoul in 1986 for track and field items.
Services Has worked as an Officer in the Southern Railways. Usha was representing Kozhikode in the Kerala Government sports school for women. Usha is now running the Usha School of Athletics at Koilandi in Kerala.
Recognition She got the Padmashri and Arjuna awards of the Government of India in 1985. She was declared as the Best Athlete of the World Railways meet in Czechoslovakia.
She is known as the ‘Queen of Indian Track Field', ‘Golden Girl' & ‘Payyoli Express' and she is the first women athlete from Kerala to take part in Olympic Games.

U. Vimal Kumar

Year & Place of Olympic Attendance in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 he took part and was ranked within the top 20 in the world.
Other Events attended National title in the years 1988 and 89. Won the French Open titles in 1983 and 84 and Welsh International Open titles 1988 & 91.
Service: He has served as the Chief National Coach Up to the year 2006. At present he is the coach at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy at Bengaluru and is also its Director.

Shiny Abraham Wilson

(800 meter)
Birth & Place Shiny Abraham was born on 8-5-1965 in Thodupuzha village, Idukki District of Kerala. She is married to a sports person Cherian Wilson.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance She had the privilege of participating in 4 Olympic Games namely the Los Angeles in 1984; Seoul 1988; Barcelona 1992; and Atlanta 1996. She and P T Usha with another 2 participants got the finalist position in the 4 x 400 meter relay run at the 1984 Los Angeles Game. She was the first and only women from India to come to the semi final stage in the 1984 She was the leader of the Indian delegation and the Indian flag bearer in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Other Events attendedHeld National championship in 800 meters for about 14 years, till her retirement. She represented India in 75 International events including Asian Track & Field meets and South Asian Federation (SAF) meets. She represented Asia in 4 world cups. She collected 18 gold and two silver medals and 2 bronze medals in South Asian Federation meets.
Service: She had service with Food Corporation of India as Deputy Manager (Sports).
Recognition She has received the ‘Arjun' award in 1985, Birla award, Padma Sri in 1998 and the Chinese Journalists award in 1991 for being one of the top 10 Athletes of Asia.

M D Valsamma

(Manathoor Devasia Valsamma – ‘Valsu')
Birth & Place She was born on 29-10-1960 at Ottathai in Kannur District.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Game attended 400 meter hurdle.
Other Events attendedShe won 5 gold medals in the 1981 Inter – State meet at Bangalore for 100 & 400 meter hurdles, 400 meter flat sprint and 100 & 400 meter relays. Valsamma became National Champion in 400 meter hurdles creating a record of 58.47 sec which was also the Asian record in 1982. In the national Games meet in 1985 Valsamma won gold and silver medals in 100 & 400 meter hurdles respectively. She won a silver medal in quarter mile Malaysian pen and gold in 4 x 400 meter relay and silver in 4 x 100 meter relay in Asian Track and Field events at Delhi. She has participated in several International events in Moscow; S A F in Beijing Asian Games, world cup meets in Havana, Tokyo, London and Asian Games in 1982, 86, 90 and 1994.
Service Worked as employee in Southern Railway.
Recognition Arjun Award in 1982, Padma Shri in 1983 and G V Raja cash award of Kerala State.

Mercy Kuttan

(Mercy Mathew Kuttan)
Birth & PlaceShe was born in 1-1-1960 in Kerala.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendancein the 1988 Seoul Olympics she participated in long jump and came upto 2nd round.
Other Events attendedIn 1981 Asian Championship meet, she came to 3rd place and won bronze medals for long jump & relay 4 x 400 meter. 1982 Asian games she got silver medal and ‘83 world cup she was a contestant. She was woman to cross 6 meters and win a medal in A T F meet.
ServiceTATA Steel, Jamshedpur with her husband.
Recognition Arjun award in 1989 for her contribution to Athletics.
She is married to Murali Kuttan a former 400 meter National champion. He was also coach. He persuaded her to shift from long jump to sprint. They have 2 sons.

K M Beenamol

(Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Beenamol)
Birth & Place Beenamol was born on 15-8-1975 in village Kombidinjal, Idukki District of Kerala.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance In 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney & 2004 Athens Olympics. She took part in 4 x 400 meter races. Beenamol was 3rd woman from Kerala to reach Olympics semi-finals in Sydney Game in 800 meter event. The other 2 semi- finalists Olympians being P T Usha – 400 m (1984 L A) and Shiny Wilson – 800m (1984 L A).
Other Events attended Won gold medal for woman's 800 m and 4 x 400 relay in 2002 Asian Games at Busan. She won the Rajeev Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2002 – 03 jointly with Anjali V P Bhagwat. She and her younger brother K M Binu were the first Indian siblings to win medals in Major International competitions – 2002 Asian Games. Beena won gold for 800m and Binu silver for 800m.
Recognition Received the Padma Shri award in 2004. She was also awarded the Arjun award. She represents the Railways in the National events.

K. M. Binu

(Kalayathumkuzhi Mathews Binu)
Birth & Place Born on 20-12-1980 in village Kombidinjal, Idukki District of Kerala. He is younger brother of another Kerala Olympian K M Beenamol.
Year & Place of Olympic AttendanceIn the 2004 Athens Olympics in 400 meter event.
Other Events attended He specialized in 400m and 800m men's event. He is the current National champion in 400m with his record of 45.48 at Athens Olympics, thus breaking the previous Indian record of 45.73 s of Milkha Singh in his 1960 Rome Olympics performance. He and his Olympian sister were the first Indian siblings to win medals in Major International competitions – 2002 Asian Games at Busan.
Recognition He received the Arjun award in 2006.

Anju Bobby George

Birth & Place She is born in Kochuparambil family in Changanaseri to K T Markose.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance In the 2004 Athens Olympics She participated in long jump with a record of 6.83 meters. She came in the 6th position. She also contested in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Other Events attended in 1996 in Delhi she won the junior Asian championship in long jump. Anju was first Indian athlete to win a medal for long Jump in World Championship in Athletics in2003 in Paris by clearing 6.70 m and won bronze medal. In 1999 Anju won the Bangalore Federation cup for triple jump by setting the National record and won silver medal at the South Asian Federation Games in Nepal. She won gold in the National Games, 2001 in Ludhiana for triple jump. In the Commonwealth Games 2002 at Manchester she won bronze and at the Asian Games in Busan won the gold medal. She won the gold medal in Afro Asian Games 2003 and gold medal in the women's long jump at the Asian Athletic Championship in Inchon city of South Korea. Her best personal performance was of 6.75 m at the IAAF World Athletics Final, 2005 where she got the Silver. Got again Silver 15th Asian games in Doha. In 2007 her rank was 28th in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Family Her husband Robert Bobby George was a mechanical engineer and a National champion in triple jump. He was her main coach and guide. Her husband's brother Jimmy George is a famous volley ball player.
Recognition She got the Arjun Award in 2002-03, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2003-04 and Padmashri in 2004.

Chitra K Soman

Birth & Place Chitra was born on 10-7-1983.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance in the 2004 Athens Olympics. She finished 7th in the 4 x 400m and in Beijing 2008.
Other Events attended She along with the other team members set national record of 3:26.89 minutes in relay race. In the 2006 Commonwealth games she won silver medal. In the Asian Grand Prix at Guwahathi and Pune in 2007 she won Gold medal. In the 4 x 400 relay race in the Asian Athletics Championship at Amman her team won gold. Again in the 2008 Doha Asian Indoor Championship she led the Indian team to win the 4 x 400 m relay.
FamilyShe married Sachin Lal a Punjabi engineer and sports lover employed as environmental engineer and settled in Sydney.
ServiceChitra is employed as a superintendent in ONGC, Dehradun.

Preeja Sreedharan

Birth & Place Preeja was born on 13.31982 at Mullakanam, Kerala.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance In the Beijing Olympics 2008 Preeja played 5000 & 10000 meters and came to the 27th position in 10000 meter event.
Other Events attended She was fifth in both 5,000 & 10,000 in the 2006 Asian Games and Won Gold medal in Guangzhou Asian Games in 10,000 meter at her personal best performance at 31minutes 50.28 seconds. This record is the Indian National record till now and she got silver medal in 5000 meter. She is the National record holder of both 5000 & 10,000 meters. At the Amman 2007 Asian Championship she won silver medal for 10,000 meter.
RecognitionShe was selected as the Manorama news maker of 2010 through online SMS votes by the public. The finalists with Preeja were Arundhahi Roy as booker, ONV Kurup famous Malayalam Poet, Njhanapeedam winner and Finance Minister K M Mani for this award.

Sini Jose

Birth & Place She is born on 25-5-1987 in Avoli Village in Muvattupuzha of Ernakulam District, Kerala to M Jose Joseph and Rithamma Jose.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance: in the 2008 Beijing Olympics she was in the team for 4 x 400 m relay.
Other Events attended She won gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Delhi in 400 meters and 2010 and 4 x 400 meters relay race with others. Her personal best and winning a gold medal is the400 m at 53.01 in the Federation Cup in Ranchi in May 2010.
Possible adverse mark She had the record of having tested positive in steroids test during the Common wealth Games which is under investigation.

Renjith Maheswari

Birth & Place Renjith was born on 30-1-1986 in Kottayam, Kerala.
Year & Place of Olympic Attendance He represented India at Beijing 2008.
Other Events attended In the 2006 Asian Games he came to 4th position. He won in the 2007 Asian Games for triple jump, but did not make it in the 2007 World Championships. With 17.07 m record at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi is the present Indian record, which won him a bronze medal.
Family He married V S Surekha who is a National record holder in pole vault and has a daughter.

Various other sports & Games in Kerala

The above are details of only those sports persons who have attended the Various Olympics Games on behalf of India from Kerala State from 1924 Paris Olympics onwards. In case of some of the Olympians the details are not available except what is mentioned against their names. In some of the cases more details are available but due the nature of the article, the details are condensed. There are other outstanding personalities in sports from the state in various fields of sports and games. The popular sports and games of Kerala are cricket, badminton, Tennis, Hockey, Foot ball; Baseball, soccer, Kabbadi, backwater cruises, boat races, and snake-shaped boats races are very common in Kerala. The traditional Kalarippayattu (a form of Martial art) is famous and is believed to have reached China and Japan through Buddhist preachers. From this art is said to be the birth of Kumfu and Judo to have taken place as per some legends.


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