Olympian Jincy Philip, who has been chosen for the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award, is somebody who rose through sheer dint of hard work, dedication and passion for athletics.
Hailing from a rural background, Jincy's bravery and indomitable fighting spirit against overwhelming odds was on display when she served as an Assistant Commandant with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the militancy-infested Kashmir valley. However, even while safeguarding the border, she was dreaming of being reunited with her first love, athletics.
"It's disappointing that I was not considered for the Arjuna Award when I was at the peak of my career. However, I feel proud of now being known as a Dhyan Chand awardee. I'm happy that I got my due, finally. It means a lot," Jincy said, beaming with excitement.
It was Dronacharya K P Thomas, one of the most respected and successful coaches in Kerala’s athletics history, who initiated her into sports.
A native of Koruthodu in Kottayam district, Jincy, now 43, excelled at state and national-level school athletics meets and went on to become a key member in India's 4x400 relay squad. She represented the country in two Asian Games, winning a gold and a silver each. She has also secured gold medals at the SAF Games and the Asian Athletics Championships. In the Sydney Olympics 2000, she competed in the women’s 4x400 metres relay with Paramjeet Kaur, Rosakutty and K M Beenamol. Jincy married Olympian P Ramachandran in 2003 and quit competitive athletics in 2006.
Her state-mates and contemporaries Rosakutty and Beenamol were conferred Arjuna Award in 1994 and 2000 respectively, but, surprisingly, Jincy was ignored for the prestigious honour despite doing enough.
"I was pregnant while serving as a CRPF personnel in Srinagar. I was promoted to the rank of Deputy Commandant, but since the posting was in a Naxal-affected area in Chhattisgarh I opted to go on deputation," Jincy said.
Although the Kerala government granted her request for a post under sports quota, she turned down the job as the position offered was relatively lowly.
For the past three years, Jincy has been working on deputation as a trainer at the Lakshmibai National College for Physical Education in Karyavattom under the Sports Authority of India. Ramachandran is a superintendent with the Customs at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport.
The couple have three children, Abhishek, Aybal and Athulya.