HomeAthletesAshwini Nachappa: The Indian Athlete with Glamour
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Ashwini Nachappa: The Indian Athlete with Glamour

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Very few people have worked as and excelled in various professions at the same time the way Ashwini Nachappa has. She is not only an accomplished Indian athlete but also an actress, educationist, coach and now a sports activist.

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The girl who set the track ablaze with her outstanding performances, Ashwini Nachappa is a one multi-faceted personality. A woman with many qualities, the former Olympian also acted in Telugu movies. She is actively involved in social work and is an educationist.

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Ashwini Nachappa hails for Kodagu in Karnataka.She spent her school years in Bangalore. During her best form Ashwini Nachappa was India’s champion sprinter for the 100m, 200m and 400m events. After winning several junior level events, she wnt onto win numerous national level events as well.

Ashwini made her mark by winning several national events. The most memorable or remembered one by the Indian fans is when she outran champion P T Usha during the 1991 Open Nationals at New Delhi. This was not her first and last win against P T Usha. She also clinched the gold at an international invitation permit meet in New Delhi. Both the wins came within a span of two weeks. Her dominance P T Usha or the Payyoli Express hit the headlines in all local and national newspapers of that time.

Early Life of Ashwini Nachappa

Ashwini Nachappa spent her early childhood in Kolkata. Her journey as an athlete started only when she moved to Bengaluru at the age of 6. She excelled at races in her school which helped her garner support from her teachers and parents. During her time in Bengaluru, Ashwini and her sister Pushpa watched famous sportsmen like Mohinder Singh Gill practice. This inspired both of them to become athletes.

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International Career of Ashwini Nachappa

Ashwini Nachappa was trained by veteran coach N. Lingappa. She represented India in three South Asian Federation Games. In 1984 she won two silver medals, in 1986 she won two silver medals and in 1988 she managed to bag three gold medals. Ashwini stood 6th in long jump at the 1986 Asian Games held in South Korea. In the 1990 Asian Games held in China, she was a part of the Indian team that won a silver medal in 4 × 100 m relay race. She represented the country at the IAAF World Championships as a part of the relay team in Rome (1987) and in Tokyo (1991).

She took part in four Asian Track & Field Championships in her career. In Indonesia (1985), she won the bronze medal in relay and in Singapore (1987), she earned a silver medal in relay. She bagged two silver medals in New Delhi (1989) and in yet another one which was held Malaysia (1991), she was a part of the relay team that won a Gold for India.

Ashwini rose to fame when she outran the legendary PT Usha not once but twice in the 1980s. This is the best-acknowledged feat of her career as an Indian athlete.

Ashwini with P.T. Usha

Film Career of Actress Ashwini Nachappa

Ashwini’s acting career began with a biographical film titled Ashwini produced by Ramoji Rao. She won the Nandi Award for Best (Actress) Debut and the film won a bronze for Best Telugu Feature Film in 1991. She starred in four other films: Inspector Ashwini (1993), Aadarsham (1993), Miss 420 (1995) and Andaroo Andare (1996), out of which Inspector Ashwini was a hit in Andhra Pradesh.

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Later years

Post-retirement, Ashwini has shown a lot of interest in social work and philanthropy. Her association with Parikrma Humanity Foundation has helped her in actively providing quality education and health care to underprivileged children in Bengaluru. She has shown a lot of concern for mentally challenged children and worked with the Special Olympics program for 12 years to encourage them to hone their skills. She co-founded Karaumbiah’s Academy for Sports & Learning (KALS) with her husband, Datha Karaumbiah. As the President of Clean Sports India, Ashwini is working towards bringing about a fundamental change in the way sport is being governed.

Ashwini with her husband, Datha Karaumbiah, co-founder of KALS

In 2010, she established Ashwini Sports Foundation (ASF) whose main goal is to produce world-class Indian athlete by offering proper training and infrastructure.

Ashwini was news in May 2017 for protesting against the management’s decision to not allow athletes to practice on the track of the Sree Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium, Bengaluru. She is currently the President of Bangalore Urban District Athletic Association.

Ashwini believes, “An Olympic medal is a happy by-product of a purposefully designed programme that begins in school. Starting, therefore, with an objective of winning medals is holding the wrong end of the stick. By thinking about winning medals first, we will never build a system that naturally and continually throws up great athletes.” 

Ashwini has been an inspiration for women proving that she is more than just a pretty face!

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