Mother’s Day and sporting Super Moms

Left:PT Usha; Right:Karnam Malleswari. Source: X

Mother’s Day. Pray, is it just another day in the calendar, or does it have far greater significance? This is a question which deserves to be answered, for the very concept of Mother’s Day, historically, has existed since the Middle Ages.

For the young generation, in India, perhaps, the need to emphasise and stress on the significance of Mother’s Day has gained immense significance. Yes, there is a societal change and the concept of living in a joint family has decreased manifold.

This, perhaps, explains why Mother’s Day has caught on more in India, especially in the last 25 years and more. Did we, in India, ever need just one day to celebrate our Mother? No, certainly not, for we have worshipped Mother in every form, as a divine deity, be it the name of Maa, Amma, Mom or many other names. The bottom line, Mother’s Day has existed in a reverential form all along in India, though, to celebrate it on the second Sunday in the month of May every year is now a beautiful practice.

Long before the Western world wanted to teach the world the importance of Mother’s Day, from ancient times in India, the Vedas taught us a few key phrases. The first is “MatruDevo Bhava” from the Taitreyaa Upanishad (Vedas), which translates into salute Mother first, then father and then the Guru.


It’s a simple meaning but so important in life today, for the first coach, guide, mentor, teacher and role model is indeed Mother. From cradle to adulthood, it is the Mother who occupies the most important position. Where and how Mother’s Day come into play in the sporting arena is a vital point. Again, if you think it is only the modern-day coaches who teach you the very rudiment of sport and how to behave while playing sport, that’s wrong. For, in India, the Mother has instilled discipline, honesty and many more good practices. She is the one who packs the first meal for the athlete in every child. It could be a simple food, yet rich in nutrients. So, there you go, the Mother is the first coach and nutritionist in life.

Today, we have fantastic cases in the field of play where legendary athletes have been medal winners, champions and embraced Motherhood in a pristine form. It would become academic to narrate how there have been struggles for the girl/lady athletes who first brought India glory in sport. Yes, each female who competes in any sport in India is already a champion at heart, for she has dealt with so many hardships. If you ask the legends like PT Usha, winner of 103 international medals, what it meant to be raised in Payyoli in Kerala and then race to victory, she has enough stories. The same Usha is also a Super Mom, as she has a son who is now a well-established doctor. Usha the athlete became a coach, worked hard with track stars in Kerala, long before jumping into politics and then rising to become the President of the Indian Olympic Association. Yes, Usha has many Mother’s Day stories, which not all will know.

For me, one woman who as a lady athlete is, indeed, a role model is Karnam Malleswari. Malli, as friends address her, shot to prominence in a very hard way. Hailing from Andhra, it was her Mother who inspired her to become the Ironwoman. For some of us, watching her win India’s first Olympic medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 live will always be a first. It was a defining medal, the first Indian woman to grab a bronze on the Olympic stage.

That Malleswari is a Mother to two sons is well known. What is not publicised is, despite her hectic work schedule in New Delhi being the Vice Chancellor of a Sports University, she runs to Yamunanagar in Haryana every weekend to work in her weightlifting academy with kids. Yes, she is Mother to all the trainees there as well. As a Mom to her own kids, she has also encouraged her son Sharad  to take up shooting as a sport. When you have a Mother as a legend at home, matching those standards are so high, yet Malleswari the Super Mother is a constant support to her children, be the two by birth or those who are in her academy.

Cut to the modern-day sporting lady icons in India, and there is no doubt boxing legend MC Mary Kom, mother to four children, Anju Bobby George, Super Mom Sania Mirza and so many more have embraced Motherhood beautifully. They say, a picture speaks a thousand words. And the pictures of athletes mentioned above with their children capture Motherhood perfectly.

How many are aware, each time a girl or lady conceives and runs the full duration of pregnancy from 36 to 40 weeks, there is a massive risk factor. Medicine and health care have improved manifold in India, but there is still that possibility that pregnancy can create problems. Mary Kom has spoken glowingly about Motherhood, Anju has just one kidney, and yet conceived and had a child. Sania’s body was battered and bruised, she had surgeries related to sports before she decided to have son Izhaan. The big challenge, so to say, has been for the Super Moms to come back and compete in sport.

Not only was it a challenge in the physical sense, but from a psychological perspective, a Mom focussing on competitive sport again is indeed fascinating, which was shown by Mary Kom, Sania, and before that, by Usha. Not too many will be aware, Usha did return after Motherhood and a three-year absence from the track to compete in the 4x400m relay in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima.

There are many more Super Moms as well and the list is exhaustive. In an intense sport like squash, Dipika Pallikal, spouse of star cricket Dinesh Karthik, returned from Motherhood to win medals at the Asian Games for India.


If one is to celebrate just the star athlete, that would be wrong. How does one ignore well-known lady coaches in India who have to take care of their own family and also work with budding champions. If you look at a sport like shooting, lady coaches are contributing big time, like Deepali and Suma. 

India is blessed there are so many millions of Super Moms who are the heart and brain behind producing champions. For, the process of producing a champion begins at the grassroot level, be it as sport for fun and then graduating to the state level and then national level. The international level is the pinnacle, so how does one forget Moms like Naseema Mirza and Sumedha Bhaker, the ones who have slogged with their daughters?

That’s Mother’s Day for you, celebrating each woman who has played a massive role in working with elite athletes in Indian sport. No after-thought this, it is impossible to pen down all names in one piece. But RevSportz does salute and celebrate each Super Mom. There are some inside the company as well.

Also Read: Mother’s Day- Learnings from sport and the health ecosystem