KOCHI: Two Keralites have won 10 medals for the country in the European Masters Games 2023, held in Tampere, Finland, from June 26-July 9. Kurian Jacob, 73, and Sebastian Kadalikattil, 82, both hailing from Kottayam, have won medals in various swimming races in the 70–74 and 80–84 age groups, respectively.
Kurian, a retired banker, won three silver medals in the swimming categories of 800 metres, 400 metres, and 100 metres freestyle. He also won bronze medals in the swimming races of the 4×50 medley relay and the 4×50 freestyle relay.
Sebastian, a retired professor, won two gold medals in the 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly competitions. He also won silver in freestyle, apart from the relay competitions.
“We are the only Indians who participated in international athletics this year. It’s really a great feeling, as we were able to clinch the medals for the nation. Since we’re only two from India, I invited swimmers in our age group to join us as the remaining two relay team members. John Morris from Australia and Ian Robertson from Canada joined us, and we won bronze medals in both the relays,” an elated Kurian told TNIE over the phone from Finland.
Sebastian said he used to visit various countries after his retirement and watch Masters competitions. “I was surprised when I watched the performances of people who are more than 90 years old. I was 74 when I watched the Masters event for the first time. If they can do it, why shouldn’t I? This thought actually nudged me to try my luck in the games,” he said. “Thankfully, I could win some medals for our country,” said Sebastian when asked about his journey.
Their recent achievements in state-and national-level competitions qualified them to participate in the international event. Kurian won three individual medals in the Kerala State Masters Swimming Meet held last year. Sebastian also won three gold medals at the Pan Pacific Masters Games held last year in Australia.
Meanwhile, the duo is planning to approach the state government to consider honouring international masters medal winners with cash awards.
“Participants bear all expenses for competing at international levels. Sports authorities and the government may not be willing to sponsor master’s athletes but might consider giving cash awards for winning medals,” said Kurian. The two athletes spent nearly Rs 2 lakh each from their pockets to participate in the international master’s athletic meet.
Source : TNIE