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Biography salutes Karnataka braveheart


Bangalore : She was only one year old when polio inflicted Malathi K Holla and she became wheelchair-bound for her entire life. But, that has not deterred her from becoming an athlete of repute with 300 international and national-level medals, including a Paralympics gold medal.

The Paralympic Games are a multi-sport event for athletes with physical and visual disabilities.

Now the inspiring life of Malathi, who in spite of all odds fought bravely like a true-blued “brave-heart” and became a champion, has been captured in a book.

“A Different Spirit” is the title of the biography on Malathi, written by senior journalist and CorpCom Head of Hindustan Aeronauticals Limited Anantha Krishnan M.

The book was released here Wednesday by former Indian cricketer Syed Kirmani.

“Malathi’s life is an inspiring story of great struggle, determination and spirit to win all odds. I thought it would be an inspiring tale to tell,” said Anantha at the book release function.

“It’s a salute to the woman and the champion, who fought all odds to emerge as a winner,” he added.

Malathi was born in Bangalore on July 6, 1958. After she was afflicted by polio, she went through a series of treatments to cure her disease and spent almost 15 years in an orthopaedic centre in Chennai. Till date, Malathi has undergone 32 surgeries.

Malathi decided to take up sports as an alternative medicine to cure her pain.

“When I was small, I wanted to be first among my friends who used to run to the backyard to pick the fallen mangoes. I wanted to fly like a bird fearlessly from one place to another. But as I grew up I realised that you need legs to run and wings to fly. I was hurt, but I didn’t give up. I knew, one day, I would run…” said Malathi in the book.

“Thus 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,” she added.

According to her, physically challenged people have undergone so many difficulties in their lives because of the discrimination rampant in society.

“But, we don’t need any sympathy, rather we need empathy from society to prove our mettle.”

Malathi is not only a sportswoman, but also works as a manager with Syndicate Bank and shelters 16 children with various disabilities at Mathru Foundation, a charitable trust in the city, established by her friends and her.

“My aim is to help and guide victims of polio from rural areas, whose parents cannot afford to send their children to school or provide medical treatment,” she said.

The book has some poignant stories from her life. Right from a hostile mother who failed to understand her properly, to poor facilities for physically challenged people in the country, Malathi has seen and gone through many difficulties.

But that has not deterred her from winning a flood of recognitions like the Padma Shri, Arjuna and Ekalavya awards.

The book has been published by Inspired Indian – a movement of writers, journalists and thinkers that promote good writing and unsung heroes.

The book has been priced at Rs. 200. It has to be ordered through the website (www.adifferentspirit.com) as it will not be available in bookstores. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Mathru Foundation.

“Whatever struggle I have been through should be able to inspire others and that is what I wish for from the book,” Malathi signed off.